Now You See Him, Now You Don’t (1972)

Directed by Robert Butler
Cinematography Frank V. Phillips

A chemistry student invents a spray that makes its wearer invisible. A crook finds out about it, and plans to steal it for himself.

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charming family fun

1 December 2015 | by SnoopyStyleSee all my reviews

College dean Higgins (Joe Flynn) is trying to cut the chemistry department budget. He dismisses all the science being done by the students. A lightning strike hits the lab. The next day, Dexter Riley (Kurt Russell) checks the damaged experiments and discovers an invisibility liquid. He shows his friends Richard Schuyler and Debbie Dawson. Crooked investor A.J. Arno (Cesar Romero) has bought up the college’s mortgage. The Dean is clueless but the three friends suspect Arno has nefarious motives.

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This is the second of the Dexter Riley movies from Disney. It is charming family fun. There is an endearing innocence about these movies. Baby-faced Kurt Russell is great. I also love the pre-CGI special effects. As a kid, I was engrossed by them. As an adult, I am enchanted by them. The story is silly but that’s also part of the charm.

Now you can be entertained, if you sit down to watch this classic movie

7/10
Author: Amy Adler from Toledo, Ohio
3 January 2007

Dexter (Kurt Russell) returns from The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes for a new adventure that can stand alone. Dexter, ever the college student prone to misadventure, has an idea for a formula to render things invisible. Dean Higgins (Joe Flynn) is less than impressed and sets his hopes for winning a lucrative science prize with the pupil studying bees. However, the bees sting the student and he turns out to be allergic.

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There goes THAT chance for a prize. But, wait, Dexter does it! He actually concocts a liquid that makes him invisible. Trouble is, a unscrupulous businessman (Cesar Romero) learns about it and decides he can use that formula, thank you, for something illegal. Can he manage to steal the bottle out from under Dexter’s nose? This is a companion movie to the TCWT but one need not have seen the first film to enjoy this one. Russell is a genial leading screw-up who comes through when it really counts. The rest of the cast is also a dream, with Flynn, Romero, Jim Bacchus and others showing why their comic abilities are still held in high regard today. The script is just innocent fun that is charming, with the special effects somewhat simple, by today’s standards, but effective nonetheless. If you want to sit down and relive a bygone era or just want to share a quality, G-rated film with your family, this is a great choice. Although it is over 30 years old, there is a great possibility that even now you will see your loved ones giggle away the blues with a showing of this fine flick.

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Great! I LOVE this Movie

10/10
Author: ludi1us from United States
21 February 2009
*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is Classic Disney at its live action cartoon best! Bumbling college student Dexter Riley (Kurt Russell) develops a mysterious liquid invisibility formula that actually makes objects disappear and helps him to save his cash strapped college. Further experimentation reveals that it works amazingly well on humans too! Riley’s startling discovery takes some hilarious new twists when a gang of crooks headed by the notorious A.J. Arno (Cesar Romero) steal the formula and attempt to use it for their less-than-legal activities. Dazzling special effects and a fast-paced story make this lively film a textbook case of college comedy! I love this movie! This movie has always filled me with a sense of wonder and joy.A pleasant little comedy that the entire family can enjoy. Not much violence or sex and absolutely no swearing, makes this a movie that parents can watch with their children.Merely one in a series of Kurt Russell movies set at Medvale College. A pleasant little series set in a wholesome America before terrorists, when people valued integrity more than cash! I highly recommend this movie!

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More Medfield College shenanigans

6/10
Author: MartianOctocretr5 from Redondo Beach, CA
16 August 2014

Comedic take on the Invisible Man motif, featuring Disney’s Medfield College gang of Dexter Riley, Dean Higgins et al. A good showcase for Kurt Russell’s early work in comedy, before he started doing violent action heroes a few years later.

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This time, Riley (Russell) is one of several college students trying to win a scientific invention contest. Lightning strikes (literally) and he finds himself in possession of a viable invisibility potion. He is ready to wow the world with this scientific breakthrough, but then, some evil hi jinx by crooks intervene, setting up some weird moments, car chases, predictable slapstick, keystone cop style bumbling, and other tomfoolery. The invisibility special effects are cheap, but it doesn’t matter.

There are some slow points and lulls, but the good scenes make up for it. The golf sequences and the “invisibility presentation” bit are the funniest moments. The cast features some great character acting by Joe Flynn, Cesar Romero, Jim Backus, and William Windom.

Brainless fun for when you’re in the mood for 3 Stooges type slapstick.

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Dexter Riley’s Adventures x 3

8/10
Author: reabbott63 from United States
18 November 2009

This is a 1972 Disney movie. For the time, I was eleven years old and I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. Feeling nostalgic, I purchased the three series DVD’s of the Dexter Riley movies and even now, at age 46, I still enjoyed them. It was all about fantasy, magic, and clean fun. And it still is! I wasn’t sure which of the three movies came first then second and last. So now I have the official dates. On December 31, 1969 The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes–On July 12, 1972 Now You See Him Now You Don’t–On February 6, 1975 The Strongest Man In The World. I still think the middle movie was the best. The special effects were amazing back in 1972 to us kids. I definitely recommend it to all ages.

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Props

The Green VW used by Schuyler was two Herbie cars from The Love Bug: one was the vehicle carried by Tang Wu’s Chinese Camp students, (this was a gutted car and a rubber truck tire tube was placed under the passenger door, and when inflated suddenly, it would tip the car over, this car used in the scene where A.J. Arno rams it). The other car was used in the scenes with Schuyler driving it on a flat tire. (The Art Dept. painted the car green, and dusted it to give a look of neglect. When the sunroof is open, the original Herbie Pearl white paint job under the tarp sunroof can be seen where the green was not painted.)

The Medfield College exteriors were on the Disney lot: the main Medfield College building and courtyard used in the title sequence was the old Animation Building at the corner of Mickey Avenue and Dopey Drive. Parts of the chase scenes were done along the main street that goes through the area of the golf courses in Griffith Park.

Es kracht, es zischt - zu seh'n ist nischt aka. Now You See Him, Now You Don't, USA 1972

Reception

The movie received a mixed reception. A negative review came from The New York Times, which accorded, “Now with all due respect to children’s intuition and judgment, may we suggest that they now try the Real McCoy, if they haven’t already. How about the original “The Invisible Man” on television? There’s grand, serious fun, kids. Plus—square or not—something to think about.” A positive review came from Varietys staff, which stated that “Virtually all the key creative elements which early in 1970 made The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes encore superbly in Now You See Him, Now You Don’t.”

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The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes (1969)

Some college students manage to persuade the town’s big businessman, A. J. Arno, to donate a computer to their college. When the problem- student, Dexter Riley, tries to fix the computer, he gets an electric shock and his brain turns to a computer; now he remembers everything he reads. Unfortunately, he also remembers information which was in the computer’s memory, like the illegal business Arno is involved in.

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Enjoyable, watchable for adults as well as young people

1 October 2000 | by agentr63 (Colorado) – See all my reviews

I remember seeing this as a kid in the theatre, and saw it again for the first time in many years on cable recently. I was surprised how much I enjoyed it after all this time. Russell’s performance is quite believable, despite the fantastic story line. Really good entertainment, and blows away much of the modern Disney entertainment provided these days, which is pretty nauseating.

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Another wonderful movie from Disney

10/10
Author: Andrew Towne from United States
28 August 2008
*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Add this to the list of great non-animated Disney movies and TV shows of the fifties and sixties (some others are “Darbie O’Gill and the Little People,” “Follow Me, Boys,” “Spin and Marty,” and “The Hardy Boys.”) This is wholesome, fun, family entertainment. But it’s also witty, well-written and not overly sentimental. A nice slice of Americana at its best.

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Kurt Russell, so appealing as a child actor in “Follow Me, Boys,” returns to the screen as a nineteen-year-old (approximately) college student. His acting range is excellent, and he is accompanied by an able crew of supporting actors. Joe Flynn (who many will remember as the perpetually flustered captain in “McHale’s Navy”) is perfect as the dean of a private college that ranks low academically and in terms of financial resources in comparison to other colleges in the state — especially the state university. Flynn — in a sign of his college’s limited resources — drives what appears to be a Volkswagen Karman Ghia convertible. The driver’s-side interior door latch is broken, so he simply uses a rope to keep it closed.

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He complains that the state university is rolling in taxpayer money that his private college can’t lay its hands on, and rants and raves in a meeting of the college board of directors about the unfairness of that and about how the president of the state university is “greedy.” The students overhear all of this through a bug they’ve planted in the dean’s office. The dean, having declared that the school can’t afford a computer that one of the professors wants, goes on to mention the names of some of the students he thinks should be put on academic probation.

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Hearing all of this, the students decide to try to get the computer themselves. What follows is a comedy of mishaps, misunderstandings and odd coincidences that is very entertaining. The overall theme — that friendship is more important than money, fame and prestige — is well supported by the plotting and character development in the movie.

This movie, in my opinion, is worth watching more than once. Part of its charm is that the conception of what a computer was and could do was so different in 1969 than it is today.

All in all, I highly recommend “The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes.”

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The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes

Author: thekyrose from United States
21 June 2008

When compared with modern movies, yes, it *does* fall short. However, it must be viewed with the genre and era it was made in. It’s simply another of those “60’s feel good movies” types. In a time when the country was in a turmoil and college campuses were a hotbed of controversy, this movie (and it’s 2 sequels) chose to portray the college scene somewhat rosier than reality. So what? Disney did that a lot with his movies.Disney movie versions of many classic stories always were white-washed,sanitized versions of themselves. Remember the Jungle Book? It was a far cry from the original Kipling tale. This came out at, or near the time of the “Kent State” mess. Dates about it vary from placing it in 1969 or 1970. Whenever it actually played, it came at the end of a very turbulent time in America’s history. I feel that audiences were looking forward to seeing a nice, quiet view of college life, however naive.

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A Disney Date for Kurt Russell, Frank Webb and Jon Provost

6/10
Author: wes-connors from Los Angeles
18 April 2010

Squeaky-clean cut collegiate Kurt Russell (as Dexter Reilly) downloads data from his campus computer, and becomes a “cause celebre” by demonstrating his improved mental gymnastics. “The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes” continues the Disney studio’s successful run of comedies featuring good-looking youngsters, great character actors, and a plot providing its star with a super-human strength. The first follow-up film had Mr. Russell discovering how to become invisible. Since it’s a Disney film, the characters aren’t too quick with the obvious (like the invisible hanging out in the girls’ locker room), but everything is certainly likable.

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The film is chock full of familiar favorites, like veteran Cesar Romero (as A.J. Arno), Joe Flynn (from “McHale’s Navy”), and William Schallert (from “The Patty Duke Show”). Getting to play in roommate Russell’s top bunk is handsome blond Frank Webb (as Pete Oaks), who also joined Russell and Medfield College co-star Jon Provost (as Bradley) in the pages of “16” and “Tiger Beat”. The teen magazines duly noted the presence of three of their own in one film. Mr. Provost had background fame as the second kid to own TV’s “Lassie” and Mr. Webb ended his career tragically. Both feature prominently in the film’s relatively fun conclusion.

****** The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes (12/31/69) Robert Butler ~ Kurt Russell, Frank Webb, Cesar Romero, Jon Provost.

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Great fun in an era when Disney actually made family films that families could view

Author: HobbitHole from Czech Republic
25 June 2008

People who are putting down this film as not good enough to ‘show it’s face in the theater’ are showing their extreme ignorance.

These movies were made for family audiences and rebroadcast on Walt Disney’s television program which highlighted family oriented movies with cast members that even signed morals clauses that they wouldn’t act up (see Lindsey Lohan, etc. in these days) and trash the Disney image as being a family movie business.

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Early on Disney had just made shorts and TV shows. In the late fifties they started making full-length films like ‘The Shaggy Dog’ with Fred MacMurray. It was so successful, it started something. Fred MacMurray was asked to do more films.

The Absent-Minded Professor (remade later with Robin Williams in the lead role in ‘Flubber’) was one of the successful movies made by Disney that was then edited for their TV audience.

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It not only spawned a sequel, “Son of Flubber”, but many more family films and comedies that were designed to help people forget their problems, while at the same time the commercials advertised Disneyland.

Disney was ahead of his time in providing programming in what were essentially well-made advertisements for families to enjoy and be reminded about visiting Disneyland, his ‘family fun park’.

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This light-hearted, fun comedy featured Kurt Russell in the early days of computers (pre-internet)getting the computer’s full knowledge into his head.

In the remake (with Kirk Cameron) they updated it to the Internet infiltrating the student’s mind and a ‘super-hacker’ from the opposing school (who’s dean ironically is past Disney star Dean Jones) who seeks to hack Cameron’s brain and stop his ‘brilliance’.

The first of the three films that revolve around Dexter Riley (Russell), the dean (Joe E. Flynn), and friends is also the best done, though the others are enjoyable too. (‘Now You See Him, Now You Don’t’ and ‘Strongest Man In the World’ are part of this three movie series)

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It also teaches the value of humility. Riley did nothing to gain his knowledge, yet he became proud of how smart he was. He had to learn humility and how to treat his friends if he wanted to keep them. Good lessons to learn.

The Disney television films were made for families and are much better than the stuff made today for ‘families’ including politically correct films, sexually explicit, nasty language and all the other things that supposedly makes them more ‘modern’.

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Disney TV temporarily stopped around 1975. They have made some films since then that were still family oriented, though people that followed Walt and then Roy Disney didn’t have the same ideas about films and the value of good stories.

Enter the Michael Eisner era…remaking classics and making part 2 stories of classics that have no basis in classic books and WERE released direct to video or DVD. Even marginal animated hits got sequels made. Actual hits like Lion King, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, got several (part 2 of Aladdin was a real turkey).

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Several of the older Disney films were remade for a ‘revived’ TV program. The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes was one of the better attempts. I would say only a handful were watchable in their ‘updated’ form. They made kids have to act like adults while the adults act like kids (this might be a clever plot line in ‘Freaky Friday’, but when it enters into other stories, it’s hard to make out who is supposed to be adult and who are kids.

No wonder kids today are forced to face problems beyond their years. They can’t even escape it in the so-called ‘escape films’ on TV or in the movies these days (with rare exceptions).

It takes exceptions like Pirates of the Caribbean or The Chronicles of Narnia to remind Disney that people still like well-made escape films that are wholesome and uplifting for the whole family.

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The Strongest Man in the World (1975)

Directed by Vincent McEveety
Dexter Riley and his friends accidently discover a new chemical mixed with a cereal seems to give anyone temporary superhuman strength.
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A school laboratory accident mixes one student’s vitamin cereal mix with Dexter Riley’s chemical experiment. When the kids decide to dispose of the mess to their neighbor’s cow, they learn that the cereal gave the cow the super-strength to give a massively vast supply of milk. When they try it out on themselves, they discover that the stuff gives any human superhuman strength for a few minutes. The school sees this as the thing needed to save their school from closure, as the Dean makes a deal with his relative who owns the company that makes the cereal for financial support, unaware that it was Dexter’s chemical which was solely responsible for the strength. When her competitor learn of this deal, he hires two criminals to stop it.
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The End of an Era

16 May 2007 | by Brian Washington (Sargebri@att.net) (Los Angeles, California) – See all my reviews

This definitely was the end of an era at the Disney studios. This was the last of the so-called “college comedies” that began with the classic “The Absent Minded Professor”, continued with the two “Merlin Jones” films (“The Misadventures of Merlin Jones” and “The Monkey’s Uncle”) and ended with the three “Dexter Riley” films (“The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes”, “Now You See Him, Now you Don’t” and this film). These films all followed the same formula but still were funny in their own way. However, by the time this film was done the formula had worn thin and this pretty much was the end of the line for this series of films. Kurt Russell was his usual funny self as the perpetually in trouble Dexter getting himself and his buddy Schyler in perpetual trouble. Ceasar Romero was also great as the kids’ perpetual foil Arno.

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However, it is also a somewhat surreal film due to the fact that Joe Flynn died after this motion picture finished filming. He definitely was great in his role as Dean Higgins and it was definitely an extension of his “Captain Binghamton” character and this capped off his legendary career as on of the all-time great curmudgeons.

Dexter Riley strikes again….

Author: Mister-6 from United States
11 September 1999

Having seen all of the Dexter Riley films that Disney has put out, I can honestly say that “The Strongest Man in the World” is my favorite.

And why not? Not only does it have Russell in all his youthful exuberance and Flynn as the eternally befuddled Dean Higgins but it also features parts for Eve Arden, Phil Silvers and Cesar Romero as A. J. Arno, the Alonzo Hawk for the ’70s.

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When Russell and his fellow college cronies discover a potion and add it to their favorite breakfast cereal, it gives whoever consumes it super-human strength. Of course, every unscrupulous character within reach is after it and will go to any lengths necessary (even Chinese acupuncture hypnosis. You heard me.) to gain their ends.

Wild special effects highlight this film, and as always, Flynn takes his broad, funny role as Higgins and runs with it, showing off the benefits of super-human strength to an amazed Arden and her associates.

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It may be set in the ’70s but gags like this stand the test of time. And “The Strongest Man in the World” is still as funny now as it ever was.

What can I say; If it has Joe Flynn in it, I’ll watch it.

Ten stars. And one more thing: if you’re the dean of a college, never let Kurt Russell borrow your car.

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“Have you ever had a corn?”

6/10
Author: utgard14 from USA
23 August 2014

The third in Disney’s Dexter Riley trilogy starring Kurt Russell. This time college student Dexter accidentally creates a formula that, when mixed with a vitamin cereal, gives him temporary super strength. Since the school is once again in financial trouble, Dexter and friends decide to use the formula to help out. How they do this is silly. It involves a weightlifting contest and a cereal company rivalry. Villainous A.J. Arno (Caesar Romero) from the previous films also returns, up to no good as usual. Russell’s good and the series regulars like Romero and Joe Flynn are lots of fun. This would be Flynn’s last movie. Nice support this time from Phil Silvers, Dick Van Patten, and the always cool Eve Arden. Pleasant, likable family comedy. It’s corny but fun.

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needs more Dexter Riley

5/10
Author: SnoopyStyle
2 March 2016

College dean Higgins (Joe Flynn) is in danger of losing his job for financial problems. He promises to raise more money in 30 days while using science Prof Quigley as a scapegoat. Student Richard Schuyler is trying out different cereals for a cow. Higgins is horrified at all the money used to feed a cow and fires Quigley. Dexter Riley (Kurt Russell)’s experiment gets mixed with the cereal leading to powerful growth. Dexter tries the cereal himself giving him temporary super-strength. Higgins seizes on the opportunity and sells the formula to the cereal company run by Harriet Crumply. Harriet challenges cereal rival Kirwood Krinkle (Phil Silvers) to a competition. Krinkle calls on his mole V.P. Harry Crumply who is jealous of Harriet. Harry hires A.J. Arno who is just out of prison.

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This is a functional Dexter Riley movie although I like “Now You See Him, Now You Don’t” the most in the series. I don’t think lifting things is the most exciting cinematic move. I actually think super speed is a superior power visually. It has more comedic potential and it would fit the car perfectly. This type of live-action Disney family comedies is fading in popularity at the time. Also this movie needs more Kurt Russell. There are sections where he is absent and he should not be. Richard Schuyler is in this more than Dexter Riley. Kurt Russell may be trying to slip away from his Disney roots at this time.

Very Goofy, Very Funny

6/10
Author: bmagnetic7 from United States
28 August 2005

I was inspired to get this movie after seeing (and enjoying) Sky High with Kurt Russell and I happened to recall this movie. I originally saw “The Strongest Man in the World” as a child (I was 5 years old) and enjoyed it VERY much. As an adult, I find it’s VERY silly, and campy and wonderful.

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Very enjoyable is the opening animation, which depicts a little boy doing AMAZING & IMPOSSIBLE things: catching a king-kong style gorilla that fell from a building, carrying a cruise ship, & holding (with one hand mind you) a stage carrying 3 grown men pressing over their heads what looks to be about 1000 lbs. WOW! College science student, Dexter Riley (Russell) creates a vitamin formula that, by pure accident, becomes a temporary superhuman strength formula. News of the formula comes to the attention of two rival cereal companies who stage a weightlifting contest to see which cereal would render the eater the strongest. One cereal, supposedly having the strength formula in it. It DOESN’T. Now Dexter, must race against the clock to get the real formula in order to win the weightlifting match.

Again, funny, goofy, slow in certain areas, but it doesn’t take away from the humor of the film.

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Lady for a Day (1933)

Director:

Frank Capra

A gangster tries to make Apple Annie, the Times Square apple seller, a lady for a day.
Apple Annie is an indigent woman who has always written to her daughter in Spain that she is a member of New York’s high society. With her daughter suddenly en route to America with her new fiancé and his father, a member of Spain’s aristocracy, Annie must continue her pretense of wealth or the count will not give his blessing. She gets unexpected help from Dave the Dude, a well-known figure in underground circles who considers Annie his good luck charm, and who obtains for her a luxury apartment to entertain the visitors – but this uncharacteristic act of kindness from a man with a disreputable reputation arouses suspicions, leading to complications which further cause things to not always go quite as planned.
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Great early Capra

28 July 2004 | by dfree30684 (United States) – See all my reviews

this is the film that precedes IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT for the team of Frank Capra (director) and Robert Riskin (screenwriter). Sadly it’s not regarded as one of his beloved classics…it deserves to be. William Warren is the perfect Dave the Dude, who’s heart of gold aids the distressed aged damsel (May Robson…the titled LADY FOR A DAY). Most of it’s innocent charm and humor haven’t faded over the 71 years since it’s release. Speaking of 70’s…at 74 May Robson was the oldest actress to receive a Best Actress nomination.

the scene near the end; where she’s received by the real mayor of New York and his party guests at her phony party (meant to show off her “society” friends to her daughter, and future inlaws) is priceless. Miss Robson’s quiet, teary eyed smile will still bring the viewer to near tears today. Also, Guy Kibbie, and Ned Sparks provide reliable comic support. a must see for all Capra fans.

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I may have to change my mind about Capra!

9/10
Author: Ursula 2.7T from my sofa
23 February 2005
*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I’m no Capra fan, but here’s a second movie of his (along with “The Miracle Woman”) that I just loved. Maybe his pre-Codes are better than his other movies? I may have to change my mind about Capra, or at least see some more of his pre-Code movies; they’re terrific!

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This movie was sweet and touching, without being sickening sweet or melodramatic. This movie also has lots of humor and some great dialogue. This 72-yr-old movie holds up extremely well. I was utterly charmed by this movie.

The story revolves around an elderly woman, Apple Annie, who is quite poor. She sells apples for a living and sends all her money to her daughter, Louise, who lives in Spain. Annie is ashamed of her lifestyle, and she leads her daughter to believe she’s a high-society lady by writing letters on the stationery of a posh hotel. Annie even has a friend on the inside of the hotel who passes Louise’s letters that are sent to the hotel to Annie.

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One of Apple Annie’s clients is “Dave the Dude”, the head of a local mob. Before he does any business dealings, Dave always buys an apple from Annie for good luck.

Well, not to spoil the movie too much, let me just say that Annie finds out her daughter is coming to town (New York) and she panics. Her panhandler friends talk Dave into setting Annie up in a suite at the posh hotel so that she can continue the pretense for her daughter’s sake. Dave gets most of his mobster and street friends involved in one way or another — the potential is here for great sappiness, but amazingly the story unfolds with just pure sweetness and lots of humor that has held up very well over the past 3/4-century.

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The performances by the lead actors were terrific. May Robson as Annie was wonderful; she gave a tender, subtle performance as the mother who loved her daughter so much, yet was so ashamed of the way she (Annie) lived. Warren William was terrific as Dave the Dude – I think his was probably the toughest role to play as he had to be a “bad guy” mob head as well as a softie who went out of his way to make Annie a lady for a day. Guy Kibbee as Annie’s husband was superb, a common pool hustler who played an upper-crust gentleman. The rest of the cast were pretty good too … I especially enjoyed the actor who played the dry and sardonic “Happy”; he had some of the best lines in the show.

So, in conclusion, snappy dialogue, nice mix of drama and humor, and just the right amount of sweetness make for a wonderful pre-Code movie. If you enjoy old movies, this is a movie that you definitely won’t be sorry you watched. Highly recommended.

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It Made Columbia Pictures With A Second Choice Cast

7/10
Author: bkoganbing from Buffalo, New York
12 February 2008

Back in the days of the studio system only one B picture outfit managed to vault itself into the big time and compete with the majors. That studio was Harry Cohn’s Columbia and the film that did it was Frank Capra’s Lady For A Day.

In his very candid memoirs Capra said unabashedly that his goal was to win one of those statues nicknamed Oscar. The Motion Picture Academy Awards were only five years old, but still the awards were coveted then because it meant prestige and far bigger salaries and in a director’s case, bigger budgets to work with.

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Capra said he tried and failed with a very arty film, The Bitter Tea of General Yen which lost money for Columbia and Cohn. He set out try it a different way with a sentimental story from that most sentimental of writers, Damon Runyon. The original story was entitled Madame LaGimp and it was about a street beggar who the great city of New York takes to its heart for a brief period with the assistance of a gangster with a streak of sentiment.

But this was Columbia, the poverty row studio so Capra couldn’t get the only old lady movie star around in Marie Dressler from MGM. May Robson was his second choice for Apple Annie, the street beggar who has a daughter in a convent school in Spain and engaged to marry into Spanish nobility.

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As for the gangster Capra wanted James Cagney, but Harry Cohn couldn’t pry him loose from Jack Warner. He was offered Warren William instead and certainly the dapper and elegant William played a different kind of gangster than Cagney would have. For William’s moll, Capra’s partner and screenwriter for Lady for a Day Robert Riskin persuaded his then girl friend Glenda Farrell to take the part. She Jack Warner was willing to part with.

With the great skill that Capra had in casting his films, some of the best character actors around like Guy Kibbee, Nat Pendleton, Ned Sparks, and Walter Connolly filled out his roster. A lot of these people would work for Frank Capra again and again.

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Came Oscar time and Lady for a Day had the great distinction of being nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, and Best Screenplay adapted from another source. This was the first film from Columbia Pictures that was ever nominated for anything by the Motion Picture Academy. May Robson made Capra forget he ever wanted Marie Dressler. Unfortunately she lost to a young actress picking up her first of four Oscars, Katharine Hepburn.

Riskin lost to the writers of Little Women and the film itself lost that year to the British story Cavalcade. One of the most embarrassing moments in Frank Capra’s life occurred when Awards host Will Rogers in announcing the Best Director said “come up and get it Frank.”

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Capra rose thinking it was him and the spotlights came down on him. Then there was a frantic buzzing and the spotlight shifted to the opposite side of the hall where Frank Lloyd got up to accept the award that was meant for him for directing Cavalcade. Talk about feeling like a nickel looking for change.

However next year Capra’s next film It Happened One Night swept all the major Oscars including his first. It sounds like something that only could have happened in a Frank Capra movie.

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Lady for a Day Themes and Thoughts

9/10
Author: Shadow10262000 from United States
16 March 2006
*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Things aren’t always what they seem. A person may appear to be rich, happy, and enjoying life, when in fact they are poorer than dirt, have not smiled in days, and are just miserable everyday. Apple Annie was a woman who didn’t live in the best of circumstances but she made the best of what she had. She sold apples to earn money to send to her daughter living in Spain. Such a kind old woman who is trying her best to survive, and she makes that best of her poor little life. She has made many friends in her life some poorer than her and other who are well enough off to not even worry about money. An acquaintance that she has, Dave the Dude, is a well off man, although it is not of total honest ways, as he is the leader of a gang, but he is always kind to Apple Annie and believes that she is good luck for him. He believes that an apple a day does more than keep the doctor away, it keeps the cops away as well as gives him luck in his dealings. Not quite the fairy tale that one would expect but maybe it is. Is it possible that bad guys have good qualities? Can a grown man believe in a fairy tale? Can a lie really turn out to be good or must it be covered up by a string of more lies.

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In Lady for a Day we see much of a fairy tale made of lies come to life through the kindness of a mobster. Annie is embarrassed about her standard of living, and sets up the allusion to her daughter that Annie is a lady of the upper class. She writes letters on the stationery of a classy hotel. She has set up a seemingly harmless lie that she is doing better in life than she really is. This is fine until Louise sends a letter saying she is coming home and bringing a suitor and his father Count Romero. Now Annie finds herself in a bind. She must cover up this lie so that her daughter can keep her lover. Annie fears that if she does not live up to the life style, which her daughter thinks she has, everything will fall apart.

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Her penniless friends talk Dave the Dude into setting Annie up in a room at the classy hotel so that she can go on her lie. Dave who is a bad guy in the sight of the law has a touch of good in him. He believes that he can help what he sees as a fairy tale to come to pass. A parallel to Cinderella Dave becomes the fairy godmother that helps dear Annie to live her dream. But this is not a simple answer. Now that Annie has her classy suite in the hotel, there is more of the story that she has to fulfill. The story follows a perfect line of events. We see the objective of Annie and the obstacles that she must over come. The action just starts rising from the moment she gets the letter from the hotel manager. She has to find her second husband, and even throw a party for the Count before they leave.

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The point in the movie where I was on the edge of my seat was when we were waiting for Dave and his gangster friends to arrive at this classy party. Leave it to the police to draw out what seems to be a simple gathering to put a stop to the gangster’s sinister plans. What a way to bring the movie to a climax. The resolution finally comes after a little added suspense of Dave being arrested, almost. The party goes on with a few unexpected guests; the police chief and even the governor play in to this fairy tale to help it have a happy ending. And the story ends on what could be a happy note, an end to a string of lies, but then again it could be just the beginning of a happily ever after marriage.

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Frank Capra’s Cinderella Story

10/10
Author: Ron Oliver (revilorest@juno.com) from Forest Ranch, CA
21 February 2000

An old apple seller on Broadway panics when she learns her daughter is returning to New York City with her European fiancé. What will happen when the girl discovers her mother is not a high society matron, as she supposes her to be? Only a notorious racketeer can help her become a LADY FOR A DAY.

May Robson is superb in this early Frank Capra film. She steals every scene she’s in as Apple Annie, the harridan sidewalk vendor. This was a plum role & Miss Robson knew how to exploit it to the limit. Glenda Farrell & Guy Kibbee are both excellent in supporting roles – she as a nightclub owner and he as an eccentric judge . Walter Connolly is fun as a suspicious Spanish Count. Warren William is good as Dave the Dude, the criminal boss who comes to Annie’s aid because her apples are good luck for him.

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Halliwell Hobbes is all proper British decorum as Annie’s borrowed butler. Acerbic Ned Sparks & dense Nat Pendleton are both enjoyable as the Dude’s henchmen. That’s an uncredited Ward Bond as the mounted policeman at the very beginning of the film.

This film is bursting with charm.

” May Robson Is Splendid As Apple Annie “

10/10
Author: PamelaShort from Canada
15 December 2013
*** This review may contain spoilers ***

If you enjoy the film Pocketful Of Miracles, which was the remake of this film, I highly recommend watching Lady for a Day the original. I found a copy of a 1933 review for this charming film and it states ‘ a picture which evoked laughter and tears from an audience at the first showing,’ and it still hits the mark perfectly today as it did in 1933. May Robson was a superb choice to play Apple Annie and her performance is extremely splendid, she completely embodies the character of Annie, thus making her real and believable. Probably May Robson’s best performance ever. No one could have done a better job of playing the lovable old Judge Blake than the wonderful Guy Kibbee. Warren William adequately handles the role of Dave the Dude along with Glenda Farrell as Missouri Martin. A host of excellent supporting actors all give sufficient performances to make this amusing sentimental tale of the grey-haired Cinderella a very pleasurable and entertaining film. There are many fine synopsis written for this film, however Lady for a Day must be seen to be fully appreciated. This is also a terrific example of Frank Capra’s best work and one of the finest films from the 1930s.

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Harper (1966)

Lew Harper is a Los Angeles based private investigator whose marriage to Susan Harper, who he still loves, is ending in imminent divorce since she can’t stand being second fiddle to his work, which is always taking him away at the most inopportune of times. His latest client is tough talking and physically disabled Elaine Sampson, who wants him to find her wealthy husband, Ralph Sampson, missing now for twenty-four hours, ever since he disappeared at Van Nuys Airport after having just arrived from Vegas. No one seems to like Ralph, Elaine included. She believes he is cavorting with some woman, which to her would be more a fact than a problem.

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Harper got the case on the recommendation of the Sampsons’ lawyer and Harper’s personal friend, milquetoast Albert Graves, who is unrequitedly in love with Sampson’s seductive daughter, Miranda Sampson. Miranda, who Harper later states throws herself at anything “pretty in pants”, also has a decidedly cold relationship with her stepmother, Elaine..

According to the TCMDb, this film was “one of Newman’s biggest hits of the ’60s and a film that helped establish his reputation as one of the screen’s coolest stars”

Terrific

23 April 2004 | by compsecure (sydney australia) – See all my reviews

Harper was one of a select few in the sixties that still stand out as eminently watchable films if not for the plot then for a host of other notable features. Newman together with Steve Mcqueen were the cool end of town during the sixties and more or less had the field to themselves.

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In Harper Newman extends himself in the cool department & delivers a classic performance which ranks with the better films he has made to date. In fact in this role Newman probably tried to do Mcqueen better than the man himself & to a great extent succeeded. Who could resist seeing Pamela Tiffen on that springboard in that bikini if you watched it for no other reason that would not be bad start.The look on Newmans face when he sees the pool for the first time and the laconic looping wave of the arm as he departs the pool after the first encounter with Tiffen & Wagner.The supporting cast should not be forgotten with sterling efforts from the adorable Lauren Bacall & Strother Martin to name a couple.Like many 60s movies which were quickly seen & forgotten this one is worthy of a place in the top shelf as Newman says in the film theres something all bright & shiny. All in all !triffic!

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Good movie version of the book

8/10
Author: dgcrow from Kelso, WA
1 August 2005

I just read “The Moving Target” by Ross Macdonald, the book upon which “Harper” is based. Given that the book was written in 1949 and “Harper” was contemporary (1966) when made, the movie follows the novel pretty darn close. Many of the scenes are done almost verbatim from the book. Harper is more acerbic than Macdonald’s Lew Archer, and the novel, of course, fleshes out the characters and their motives a little better. But I think the movie stands up pretty well by itself. It has an outstanding supporting cast and, except for Pamela Tiffin, the acting is good, with high marks especially for Paul Newman and, in my opinion, Arthur Hill. The photography is gorgeous, and I can listen all night to any music by Johnny Mandel. All that and those great one-liners by Newman! I’d give it a 7 or 8 out of ten.

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A Good ‘Noir’ For The ’60s

9/10
Author: ccthemovieman-1 from United States
12 August 2009

This is very much like a late 1940s film noir, except it’s filmed in the mid 1960s. It has that same edgy dialog and feel to it as private eye “Lew Harper” goes looking for a missing man. His character is based on Ross McDonald’s best-selling P.I. “Lew Archer.”

In “Harper,” all the characters are suspicious and they vary from suave “Allan Taggart” (Robert Wagner) to the coquettish late teen “Miranda Sampson” (Pamela Tiffin) to a lawyer “Albert Graves” (Arthur Hill) who’s infatuated with the hot teen and also carries a gun. Then there’s the overweight has-been entertainer “Fay Esterbrook” (Shelly Winters), the druggie jazz singer “Betty Fraley” (Julie Harris), the New Age scam artist “Claude” (Strother Martin) and a bunch of gangsters and thugs who are the obvious targets. Of them all, I though Winters was the biggest hoot.

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Along the way, Newman wins all the verbal bouts but loses the physical contests. He zings everyone with some great put-downs, but takes a physical beating a few times, too. He sports a nice shiner in the last half of the film.

This film will put you smack into the time period, when people danced “The Frug” and referred to cops as “the fuzz.” People were starting to wear Beatle-type haircuts, although you’d never find Newman giving in to that counterculture fad. In here, at least, he’s old school, tough, relentless and suspicious of everyone……which, at it turns out, is as it should be.

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The DVD is now part of the Paul Newman Collection and it’s shown with a very sharp 2.35:1 ratio transfer, very much showing off Conrad Hall’s cinematography. Johnny Mandel’s music score adds to the “coolness” of this film, too.

Newman acclaimed as the new Bogart…

7/10
Author: Righty-Sock (robertfrangie@hotmail.com) from Mexico
6 January 2009

The film opens with Harper (Newman), unshaven and gradually awakening from a hangover… He puts his head under a faucet, attempts to make coffee but finds none left, and dispiritedly takes yesterday’s grounds from the garbage and makes a perfect1y terrible cup of coffee… At once we get Harper’s image as an antihero detective without any illusions…

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As he is commissioned by Lauren Bacall to trace her wealthy husband who has been kidnapped, the details are filled in: he’s tough, ironic, cool, unpleasant and repugnant… Although occasionally given to a moment of sensitivity or remorse, he’s most1y sadistic and exploitative…

Harper is a loner, with an air of detachment and an ability to dispatch opponents with a fist and a flippant remark… He swings into action only mechanically… He chews gum constantly, looks around in an uninteresting manner, makes little disapproving gestures, laughs in total disregards, and smiles mischievously…

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Harper’s dealings with women are based exclusively on coldness, deception and sexual exploitation… He is estranged from his wife and would like to renew his marriage…

Only cream and bastards rise to the top.

8/10
Author: Spikeopath from United Kingdom
15 April 2010

Paul Newman’s first foray into detective playing came after Frank Sinatra had turned the role down. Quite what the other “blue eyes” would have done with the material is anyones guess, but it’s hard to think he could have been as effortlessly cool and have the comic nous that Newman puts into Lew Harper. Whilst I wouldn’t go so far as saying that Harper revitalised a faltering “detective” genre, I do however think it’s fair to say that it stands as one of the genres most important post 50s entries.

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Harper has a bit of everything, a dynamite leading performance, a tricksy plot full of suspicious and near bonkers characters, cool locations, dames of all shapes, ages and sizes, and more tellingly, a cracking screenplay that’s inventive in structure and sizzles with humour. Hell, even the end has a nice touch, a conversation piece indeed.

With its shades of The Big Sleep and its obvious Raymond Chandler conventions, Harper for sure is hardly original. But it’s so colourful, in more ways than one, it is able to hold its head up high and stand on its own two feet as a slickly constructed detective piece for the modern age. That it doffs its cap to those wonderful 40s & 50s movies should be applauded, not used as a stick to beat it with. From the off we know that Lew Harper may well be a cool dude that looks pretty, but he’s also the sort of PI that is fallible and is prepared to go low to get his leads.

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As he fishes out dirty coffee filters from his garbage can to take his morning hit, we know we are in the presence of no ordinary detective. Where ever Harper goes he meets “interesting” characters, if they are not sticking a gun or a fist in his face, then they want something from him or intend to hinder his progress. The roll call consists of a gun-toting attorney (Arthur Hill), a poolside gigolo (Robert Wagner), an alcoholic ex-starlet who has let herself go (Shelley Winters), the missing man’s horny daughter (Pamela Tiffin), a jazz loving junkie (Julie Harris), Harper’s estranged wife (Janet Leigh) and the leader of nutty religious order “Temple Of The Clouds” (Strother Martin). Then there’s the secondary characters that file in and out as Harper chases clues, hit men, bag-men, fresh faced cops and mysterious servants. All serving a purpose and giving the excellent Newman scope to act off.

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Tho Conrad Hall’s cinematography is on the money, Harper isn’t stylish in the film noir tradition in that respect. There’s no visual tricks, and in truth this is not a film for the action junkie. What it is is damn fine story telling that is acted accordingly, and yes it is very noirish in plotting. There’s never a dull moment and all scenes are relevant. It’s also very funny. Witness Harper’s “date” with Fay Estabrook, Newman & Winters are comedy gold. And Harper’s phone calls to his estranged wife, or simply lap up Martin’s hilarious religious berserker turn. But ultimately you want, and need, a bit of hardness in a plot such as this, and we get it as the last third of the film arrives in a ball of gun play and torture. It’s a smashing film for those after a slick detective piece driven by a charismatic leading man. 8/10

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Noir and humour make an original, sassy classic.

10/10
Author: (michael-heathcote3) from Hampshire, England
13 October 2008
*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It astounds me that this movie isn’t higher rated, talked about more, written about more. It is phenomenal. Funny, satirical, sassy, well cast and acted. It has all the ingredients of noir, the rich bitch with a vendetta, a mean patriarchal crimelord, a complex plot of nefarious goings on, a few homicides along the way, a betrayal by a friend, and a hard boiled and cynical P.I. who knows every trick in the book. Trump card is the L.A. setting, and that’s where the satirical edge comes in. Strother Martin as a berobed cult leader is a scream, and there is real satire here aimed at the freakier fringes of California’s laid back community.

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The movie has a cracking script by Goldman, a good score, and is choc full of style. My only very slight quibble with it is that it is almost TOO ambitious and tries to be both great noir and great semi-humorous gumshoe thriller. But it largely succeeds in all things and Newman is sizzling as the humorous, sharp as a razor P.I. I can see its influence in several great films that followed it, including Chinatown, and that’s why I am staggered at the lack of attention it gets. Top noir, even topper P.I. semi comic thriller. Outstanding and groundbreaking.

” So long as there’s a Siberia, you’ll find Lew Harper on the job “

8/10
Author: thinker1691 from USA
25 January 2009

Dectectives per Se are a miserable lot. There’s is a primitive existence and are derided by nearly everyone they meet or work for. They are seen as the lowest form of life, by law enforcement officials at every level.

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Nevertheless, they are indispensable to mystery stories in every city. In this film, “Harper” Paul Newman gives a solid performance to his character. He is hired by an old friend, Albert Graves (Arthur Hill) to investigate what appears to be a missing person’s case. The fact the missing man is rich, powerful and much hated, quickly escalates to one of Kidnapping, extortion and finally murder. Along the way, Harper meets an obvious assortment of characters, which includes the dispassionate widow, Elaine Sampson (Lauren Bacall), the beautiful but self-absorbed, daughter Miranda (Pamela Tiffin), the loyal but lecherous attorney (Arthur Hill), the trusted friend Troy, (Robert Webber) the faithful but ambitious driver Allan Taggart (Robert Wagner) and finally the vicious thug Puddler (Roy Jenson). These are a few of the interesting people who complicate the case, which does not includes Harpers’ wife, (Janet Leigh) who pushes him for a divorce.

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The intricate story twists, turns and involves many a strange bed-fellow from drug addicts, to spiritual charlatans, smugglers and greedy employees. Everything is as it should be for a mystery best seller which lends itself well to a Paul Newman who-done-it. Follow closely and you’ll enjoy it, as it’s a good movie. ****

Production

William Goldman had written a novel Boys and Girls Together, the film rights to which had been optioned by Elliot Kastner. Kastner met with Goldman and expressed a desire to make a tough movie, one “with balls”. Goldman suggested the Lew Archer novels of Ross Macdonald would be ideal, and offered to do an adaptation. Kastner agreed, saying he would option whatever of the novels Goldman suggested, and Goldman chose the first The Moving Target. According to Goldman, the script was offered to Frank Sinatra first who turned it down, then to Paul Newman, who was eager to accept as he had just made a costume film, Lady L, and was keen to do something contemporary.

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The script was originally called Archer. The name of the lead character was changed from Lew Archer to Harper because the producers had not bought the rights to the series, just to The Moving Target. Goldman later wrote “so we needed a different name and Harper seemed OK, the guy harps on things, it’s essentially what he does for a living.

Goldman adapted another Macdonald novel, The Chill, for the same producers, but it was not filmed.Paul Newman pulled out of the project and Sam Peckinpah became attached as director for a while as the film was set up at Commonwealth United Productions. But when that company wound up its film operations it was not made.

Yet another Macdonald novel, The Drowning Pool, was adapted to film with Paul Newman reprising the role of Harper. The Drowning Pool was released, by Warner Brothers, in 1975.

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cool once and for all

2 June 2007 | by (winner55) (United States) – See all my reviews

I first saw this film when it came out, at age 12, and chewed my gum like Paul Newman for the next 20 years.

What’s remarkable about that is, I “got” the film at that time, recognized its depth (as well as its superficialities), loved it; and having seen the film several times over many years, the basic experience hasn’t changed.

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This is probably the most accessible “hardboiled” detective film ever made, yet it never panders – it depicts a rough world straight on, and doesn’t particularly like – or condemn – any of its characters. Is it the classic that “The Big Sleep” is? No, because its world is smaller than that of Chandler/Faulkner/Hawks, even though it glitters more; and Smight is a solidly competent director but not an ‘auteur’ – which works in the film’s favor: Smight just gets on with the job and tells his story, he doesn’t stop for extra flourishes.

But, although all the acting in the film is top-quality, it is Newman’s performance that carries the film over the top: witty, cynical, detached, yet with glimpses of passion and commitment, Newman uses Harper to define pre-hippie cool once and for all.

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Historical note: although this is not “The-Maltese-Falcon” classic noir film, the detective film was believed to be a genre of the past (at best fodder for bad TV) when this came out. “Harper” kept alive what many thought a dead tradition. The reviewer who wrote that this film made the Elliot Gould “Long Goodbye” possible is right on the money; and when nine years later Jack Nicholson starred in Polanski’s tribute to the genre – “Chinatown” – it was Newman’s performance here that he is referencing, not Bogart. That makes this an important film, and one should give a second look to a film that influenced so many others.

Paul Newman’s Turn As Private Eye Delivers

9/10
Author: Kelt Smith from Baltimore, MD
4 October 2006

Sexy, schmaltzy & slick; all good words to describe this 1966 Paul Newman vehicle. Newman cast in the title role of HARPER is a 40ish ‘Private Eye’ living out of his small agency office pending divorce from his ‘had it up to here’ wife Susan played by Janet Leigh.

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The movie starts out on an early California morning with LEW HARPER going to visit the extremely wealthy convalescent Elaine Sampson (Lauren Bacall) at her palatial mansion. Mrs. Sampson’s husband has been missing for a day and one her husband’s attorneys Albert Graves (Arthur Hill) has suggested that she hire his longtime friend HARPER to find the missing millionaire.

“Drink, Mr. Harper ?”, offers Mrs.Sampson. “Not before lunch,” the declining HARPER says as he spits out his gum. “(But) I thought you were a detective,” inquires Mrs. Sampson. “New type,” counters HARPER.

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Mrs. Sampson’s concern about her husband’s alleged disappearance has little to do with his well being and more to do with his affability while drunk. Apparently Mr. Sampson has a history of going on drunken binges with “happy starlets” and giving away things. Also present at the house are Mrs. Sampson’s ever snooping manservant Felix (Eugene Iglesias), step daughter Miranda (Pamela Tiffin), and Mr. Sampson’s private pilot Alan Taggert (Robert Wagner) who was the last person to see Mr. Sampson.

HARPER goes on a whirlwind through southern California running into a variety of interesting supporting characters from fat boozy former starlet Faye Estabrook (Shelly Winters) who had been doing Mr. Sampson’s astrology charts for the past several years, Faye’s sadistic criminal husband Dwight Troy (Robert Webber), cabaret singer Betty Fraley (Julie Harris), and Claude (Strother Martin), a man to whom Mr. Sampson gave away a whole mountain that he has turned into a ‘religious sanctuary’.

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Throughout, HARPER is a ‘smart Aleck’, who runs circles around the inept police personnel, and is one step ahead of the rest of us.

Bright crisp colorful photography, to the point action as directed by Jack Smight, a terrific supporting cast (particularly Winters who didn’t mind going out on a limb), & an easy background score. This film is fast paced, and thoroughly enjoyable. HARPER is Paul Newman’s baby all the way.

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The Seven Year Itch (1955)

With his family away for their annual summer holiday, New Yorker Richard Sherman decides he has the opportunity to live a bachelor’s life – to eat and drink what he wants and basically to enjoy life without wife and son. The beautiful but ditsy blond from the apartment above his catches his eye and they soon start spending time together. It’s all innocent though there is little doubt that Sherman is attracted to her. Any lust he may be feeling is played out in his own imagination however.

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Marilyn at her most innocent

6 September 2002 | by caspian1978 (Boston, MA) – See all my reviews

In Some Like it Hot, Marilyn was the hottest she ever was. In Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, she’s the Woman of all Women. But in The Seven Year Itch, Marilyn is the prize of all treasures. She is timeless in every frame of the film. Coming across as this unique, cute, and innocent little woman, Marilyn makes your mind race, your heart thump, and your youth return.

No one else but Marilyn Monroe could play “The Girl” in the movie. She is just that, a girl, but much much more. Most of the physical comedy in the film is executed by Monroe herself. A lot of us don’t realize this as we expect most of the comedy to come from the comedian in the film, Tom Ewell. A must see if you are a fan of America’s first Dream Girl, the amazing Marilyn Monroe.

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A Fabulously Funny, Fast-Paced Sex Farce From The Fifties…It’s “Just Elegant!”

10/10
Author: Allison Dragotto (palal16@aol.com) from ilion, New York
15 July 1999

The 1955 comedy, “The Seven Year Itch,” directed by Billy Wilder, is one of the most amusing sex farces ever filmed. Starring Tom Ewell and Marilyn Monroe, and based on George Axelrod’s play, the film takes a humorous look at the problems of a typical middle-aged married man. Tom Ewell, and unassuming leading man with a flair and talent for comedy, is perfectly cast in this movie. Ewell plays the part of Richard Sherman, an average middled-aged man of the 50’s…office worker, city inhabitant, with a loving wife and one son. He is left alone in the city for the entire summer while his family vacations in Maine. All is well until Mr. Sherman meets the beautiful blonde who rents the apartment above his for the summer.

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They soon get to know each other and become friends over champagne, potato chips, and a Rachmaninoff record. Their friendship causes Mr. Sherman to worry that his wife will find out about his relationship with the blonde bombshell. With his overactive imagination, Mr. Sherman dreams up numerous situations concerning this young woman, as well as his wife. Although his imagination causes Mr. Sherman much worry, it provides many of the film’s most memorable and enjoyable scenes. Of course, the film is famous for the scene of Monroe standing over the subway grate, which has always been a classic movie scene. Monroe, although unnamed in the film, gives one of her best screen performances, which is “just elegant,” as she says throughout the movie. She displays a talent for comedy as well as beauty, which should not be overlooked. Ewell’s portrayal of Richard Sherman is delightful, hilarious, and perfect. His facial expressions and comedic timing contribute to the film’s enjoyability.

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Along with these stars, the supporting cast is excellent as well. It includes such character actors as Robert Strauss (Mr. Kruhulik, the janitor), and Donald MacBride (Mr. Brady, Richard Sherman’s boss). “The Seven Year Itch” is one of the ultimate 50’s pop culture films. And since it was filmed in Cinemascope, it would be perfect to see on the big screen. Any fan of Monroe, Wilder, old movies, or 50’s culture would enjoy this movie; I strongly recommend it. The comedy, timing, acting, and direction are flawless…and they all help to make “The Seven Year Itch” “just elegant!”

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sparkling but a bit confusing!

Author: didi-5 from United Kingdom
13 May 2004

The film succeeds mainly because of Marilyn Monroe’s obvious charisma and appeal – she really shines in this as the dizzy, curvy blonde upstairs. Tom Ewell has been married seven years and has seen his wife and son away for the summer – he determines not to smoke, not to drink, and not to chase women. The moment Monroe wiggles up those stairs all that goes out of the window and he starts fantasising about the new arrival.

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There are a lot of funny situations and you’re never quite sure what it in Ewell’s head and what is real (well, I wasn’t anyway). I love the scene where they are playing Chopsticks and of course, that old chestnut the 2nd Rach concerto rears its head! Victor Moore plays a doddery plumber and Oscar Homolka a shrink who advises Ewell not to consider anything as drastic as murder until he can get simple problems sorted out, while Evelyn Keyes makes the most of her few appearances as Ewell’s wife (or is she his conscience?!).

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The film is fun, the famous skirt and grid scene is now legendary (but quite unlike the often-seen poster shot), and there is much in this bouncy production after nearly fifty years to entertain pretty much anyone.

Naive and Innocent in the Present Days, Tested the Limit of Censorship in the 50’s

7/10
Author: Claudio Carvalho from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
23 October 2006

In summertime in Manhattan, the plain and average Richard Sherman (Tom Ewell) sends his wife and son for vacation in the country. Sherman is the key man of a publishing firm, Brady & Company, which publishes cheap pocket books. The faithful Sherman has a routine life with his family and dreams on being successful with women.

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When a beautiful and sexy blonde lodges the upstairs apartment of his small building, Sherman first opens the front door for her and then he invites her to have a drink with him after the fall of her tomato vase on his chair on the backyard. Along the days, he spends some time with the girl and feels tempted by her, but later he misses his family and travels to meet them.

“The Seven Year Itch” is a naive and innocent romantic comedy in accordance with the contemporary moral standards, but actually this feature tested the limits of censorship in a time when Hollywood was ruled by a rigid moral code. The story is based on a George Axelrod popular 1952 Broadway play about a man that has an affair with his upstairs neighbor. Unfortunately in the 50’s, the American cinema did not have the same artistic freedom as theater.

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The screenplays and movies were submitted to the scrutiny of the powerful Hayes office, the censorship of Hollywood. There was a Production Code in Hollywood that stated that adultery should not be the subject of comedy or laughs, and this story violated the Code. Billy Wilder was fascinated by this story and purchased the rights of George Axelrod. However, to make the movie was a challenge for this great director, since many scenes and lines were ripped away by the censorship and by the National Legion of Decency, mutilating the plot.

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Marilyn Monroe was selected to the cast, but Billy Wilder wanted a plain, average and non-handsome actor for the role of Sherman. His first choice was Walter Matthaus, but Fox direction did not want to take the risk of an unknown lead actor, therefore they selected Tom Ewell. The most famous scene of Marilyn Monroe, with her dress being lifted by the air of the subway, was first an exterior scene, but later Billy Wilder needed to shot again in the set because the noise and whistles of the viewers spoiled the original footage. This external scene also provoked the end of the marriage of Marilyn with Joe Dimaggio, who felt humiliated with the manifestation of the public.

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One dialog that I particularly like is when Sherman and the blonde leave the movie theater and she says that the creature needed to be loved, in an analogy between Sherman and the creature of the black lagoon. The restored DVD is fantastic and this is the most sexually suggested role of Marilyn Monroe to date. My vote is seven.

Title (Brazil): “O Pecado Mora ao Lado” (“The Sin Lives on the Next Door”)

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A legendary scene, but little else to remember…

5/10
Author: Enchorde from Sweden
9 February 2010
*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Recap: Richard Sherman has just sent his wife and kid away to the countryside, to let them escape an especially bad New York City heat wave. Sherman is left behind during the summer, having to work. But something else starts to occupy his mind, his new upstairs neighbor. It isn’t just anyone, but a spectacularly beautiful young woman. A model to boot. Sherman starts flirting with her, but his guilty conscience is having the best of him. Should he or should he not act on the romance with the girl upstairs.

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Comments: A rather unusual story where most of the story is played out in either Sherman’s apartment or Sherman’s imagination, as he obsesses if he should or shouldn’t act on his impulses. But unusual and original as it is, it is not that funny that one could hope for. Legendary screenwriter and director Billy Wilder spearheads this movie and that promises a lot, and it doesn’t live up to the expectations. There were a few outright laughs, it mostly made me smile a little. With Sherman’s obsessing it almost gets a little brooding instead.

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It does bear watching though, if nothing else for one famous scene where Marilyn Monroe steps out on the grating above the subway, and her dress blows up around her legs. It’s fun to have seen the original seen that has been copied and parodied countless times since.

But at almost two hours running, it is not really good enough to really carry itself. Some small moments of good jokes but otherwise it was just rather long. If you want to watch a really funny Marilyn Monroe movie I recommend Some like it hot. Also directed by Wilder it is much better.

5/10

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Some Like It Hot (1959)

Directed by Billy Wilder
Cinematography Charles Lang

When two Chicago musicians, Joe and Jerry, witness the the St. Valentine’s Day massacre, they want to get out of town and get away from the gangster responsible, Spats Colombo. They’re desperate to get a gig out of town but the only job they know of is in an all-girl band heading to Florida. They show up at the train station as Josephine and Daphne, the replacement saxophone and bass players. They certainly enjoy being around the girls, especially Sugar Kane Kowalczyk who sings and plays the ukulele. Joe in particular sets out to woo her while Jerry/Daphne is wooed by a millionaire, Osgood Fielding III. Mayhem ensues as the two men try to keep their true identities hidden and Spats Colombo and his crew show up for a meeting with several other crime lords.

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Billy Wilder’s screwball masterpiece with Curtis, Lemmon and the immortal Marilyn handed the best comedy roles of their careers.

10/10
Author: gary brumburgh (gbrumburgh@aol.com)
18 April 2001

Admittedly biased, “Some Like It Hot” can certainly stand on its own merit with or without my thunderous round of applause. More than a decade ago, I had the privilege of performing both the Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon roles in “Sugar,” the musical adaptation of “Some Like It Hot” which originally starred Tony Roberts, Robert Morse and Elaine Joyce on Broadway in the 70s. Though it hardly compares to the film’s original (how could it???), the musical nevertheless is still a big hit with live audiences. I can’t remember ever having a better time on stage than I did with “Sugar,” and it’s all due to the irrepressible talents that instigated it all.

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In the 1959 classic, Curtis and Lemmon play two ragtag musicians scraping to make ends meet in Prohibition-era Chicago during the dead of winter who accidentally eyewitness a major gangland rubout (aka the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre). Barely escaping with their lives (their instruments aren’t quite as lucky), our panicky twosome is forced to take it on the lam. Scared out of their shoes (sorry), the boys don heels and dresses after they connect with an all-girl orchestra tour headed for sunny Florida. Killing two birds with one stone, they figure why not go south for the winter while dodging the mob? Once they hit the coast, they’ll ditch both the band and their humiliating outfits.

Enter a major detour in the form of luscious Marilyn Monroe as Sugar Kane, given one of the sexiest (yet innocent) entrances ever afforded a star. Snugly fit in flashy ‘Jazz Age’ threads, a blast from the locomotive’s engine taunts her incredible hour-glass figure as she rushes to catch her train to Florida.

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The boys, stopped dead in their high-heeled tracks by this gorgeous vision, decide maybe the gig might not be so bad after all. As the totally unreliable but engagingly free-spirited vocalist/ukelele player for the band, Sugar gets instantly chummy with the “girls” when they cover for her after getting caught with a flask of booze. As things progress, complications naturally set in – playboy Curtis falls for Monroe but has his “Josephine” guise to contend with, while Lemmon’s “Daphne” has to deal with the persistently amorous attentions of a handsy older millionaire.

What results is an uproarious Marx Brothers-like farce with mistaken identities, burlesque-styled antics, and a madcap chase finale, all under the exact supervision of director Billy Wilder, who also co-wrote the script. Lemmon and Curtis pull off the silly shenanigans with customary flair and are such a great team, you almost wish THEY ended up together! Curtis does a dead-on Cary Grant imitation while posing as a Shell Oil millionaire to impress Marilyn; Lemmon induces campy hilarity in his scenes with lecherous Joe E. Brown (who also gets to deliver the film’s blue-ribbon closing line).

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As for the immortal Monroe, she is at her zenith here as the bubbly, vacuous, zowie-looking flapper looking for love in all the wrong places. Despite her gold-digging instincts, Monroe’s Sugar is cozy, vulnerable and altogether loveable, getting a lot of mileage too out of her solo singing spots, which include the kinetic “Running Wild,” the torchy “I’m Through With Love,” and her classic “boop-boop-a-doop” signature song, “I Wanna Be Loved by You.”

The film is dotted with fun, atmospheric characters. Pat O’Brien and George Raft both get to spoof their Warner Bros. stereotypes as cop vs. gangster, Joan Shawlee shows off a bit of her stinger as the by-the-rules bandleader Sweet Sue, Mike Mazurki overplays delightfully the archetypal dim-bulbed henchman, and, if I’m not mistaken, I think that’s young Billy Gray of “Father Knows Best” fame (the role is not listed in the credits) playing a snappy, pint-sized bellhop who comes on strong with the “girls.”

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For those headscratchers who can’t figure out why the so-called “mild” humor of “Some Like It Hot” is considered such a classic today, I can only presume that they have been brought up on, or excessively numbed by, the graphic, mindless toilet humor of present-day “comedies.” There was a time when going for a laugh had subtlety and purity – it relied on wit, timing, inventiveness and suggestion – not shock or gross-out value. It’s the difference between Sid Caesar and Andrew “Dice” Clay; between Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon and Chris Farley and David Spade; between “I Love Lucy” and “Married With Children”; between Lemmon’s novel use of maracas in the hilarious “engagement” sequence, and Cameron Diaz’s use of hair gel in a scene that ANYBODY could have made funny. Jack Lemmon could do more with a pair of maracas than most actors today could do with a whole roomful of props. While “Some Like It Hot” bristles with clever sexual innuendo, today’s “insult” comedies are inundated with in-your-face sexual assault which, after awhile, gets quite tiresome — lacking any kind of finesse and leaving absolutely nothing to the imagination. I still have hope…

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Having ultimate faith in my fellow film devotees, THAT is why “Some Like It Hot” will (and should be) considered one of THE screwball classics of all time, and why most of today’s attempts will (and should be) yesterday’s news.

The funniest movie ever made?

10/10
Author: Mike Salvati (mikesalvati@yahoo.com) from New Jersey, USA
9 July 1999

One of the all time great screen comedies, Some Like It Hot stars Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, and Jack Lemmon at their best. Billy Wilder, one of the all time great directors, co-wrote and directed this fantastic movie.

Set in 1929, Lemmon and Curtis are out of work musicians who witness the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. Fleeing for their lives, they disguise themselves as female musicians in order to get to Florida and away from the mob. This is where the fun begins.

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Renamed “Daphne” and “Josephine” they try their best to keep their secret. But when “Josephine”(Curtis) meets sexy ukulele player Sugar Kane (Marilyn Monroe) you know he’s going to blow his cover somehow. While Curtis tries to woo Monroe by pretending to be her dream man as she has told him, Lemmon is courted by Osgood Fielding (Joe E. Brown). Curtis adapts a Cary Grant accent and pretends to be frigid in the movie’s funniest scenes. Lemmon seems to forget he’s a boy and has so much fun with Fielding and adores the things he buys him. Between the cases of mistaken and pretend identities, the mobsters come to Florida for their Opera Lovers Meeting. It all winds up with a hilarious ending.

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This movie is a gem from start to finish. Curtis, Monroe, and Brown are great in their parts. Monroe brings a funny and sexy vulnerability to Sugar and Curtis is great with his performance as “Josephine” and the stuffy millionaire who talks just like Cary Grant. Lemmon really steals the movie here. He invests Daphne with such enthusiasm that we can understand why he’s falling for Osgood. He’s having way too much fun and it’s great to watch him. This is a true classic from start to finish. It’s recommended for anyone who likes to laugh.

Grade:A+

A gender-bending comedy ahead of its time

Author: Nathan (psionicpoet@hotmail.com) from Troutdale, OR
30 April 2004

What Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis do in “Some Like it Hot” would be par for the course in modern movies – every other month, similar fish-out-of-water movies premiere with men posing as women (“Tootsie”), women posing as men (“The Associate”), black people posing as white people (“White Chicks”), and on and on. What makes “Some Like it Hot” different is two things: the strength of its comedy, and the presence of Marilyn Monroe, then at the height of stardom.

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Lemmon and Curtis turn in admirable performances both as Joe and Jerry, and as Josephine and Daphne. Tony Curtis does Lemmon one better by creating a third identity, “Junior”, in order to woo Sugar Kane (Monroe).

Tying the pair’s story into the Chicago Valentine’s Day Massacre, where a gang war spilled over into a parking garage, leaving a number of people lined up against the wall and shot, is a deft touch (though the serious tone of these gang sequences contrasts sharply with the bulk of the movie).

The movie does an excellent job building the far-fetched stakes of the movie ever-higher, from their finding refuge from vengeful gangs in a women’s jazz band, to their showdown in the Florida hotel, to the eventual revealing of Curtis’ and Lemmon’s identities.

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The movie’s surprisingly suggestive and risque content is at odds with the time frame of the movie, and even with the period of the movie’s creation. The many smart double-entendres and plays on words are very well-written, and alternate between lowbrow and highbrow comedy,

The films only fault might be a couple of overlong musical numbers, performed either by the whole band or soloed by Sugar Kane. Though to be expected in a Marilyn Monroe film, these musical acts are literal “show stoppers” that bring the comedic momentum of the film to a screeching halt. However, it is easy to over look these minor defects in the movie as a whole, because by and large it is quite funny – no wonder it s considered a classic – and after all, “nobody’s perfect”.

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As hot as it gets

Author: Vlad B. from United States
20 April 1999

A Comedy that has it all, and lacks absolutely nothing. “Nobody’s perfect” may be an inherent truism, but “Some Like it Hot” is a definite somebody in the universe of cinema, thus it IS perfect in every sense. Swing, sex and slapstick, (three words that immediately come to mind when trying to describe it) , are a mix so delicious, so fruitful in its possibilities that one cannot imagine a film which can live up to them, and yet this one does. Marilyn, her trademark, displeasingly infantile voice aside, is a bombshell of thermonuclear dimensions, whose powers of titillation will not expire so long as there are hormones and/or Viagra. The sexual content, for socio-historical reasons cannot be as explicit as we’ve come to expect, but there’s still plenty of it, from Monroe’s see-through outfit to the double entendre worthy of the Farelli Brothers (“What do I do if it’s an emergency ? – Pull the emergency break!” ), including overtly gay themes that have a cult following of their own.

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The Lemmon/Curtis duo operates with gleeful, unrestrained vitality that can only be likened to Chaplin in his heyday. Though not a Musical, the combustive energy of this movie is so stimulating it almost makes you get up and dance.

Two musicians dressed as women join an all-girl band to escape the mobsters’ vendetta

8/10
Author: ma-cortes
30 October 2012

Legendary comedy masterpiece from filmmaker Billy Wilder and IAL Diamond that Won Oscar and another 13 wins & 8 nominations . Immensely charming comedy set among Chicago and Miami , being starred by an all-star-cast . When two unemployed musicians witness a mob hit , the St Valentine massacre in Chicago carried out by mobster chief (George Raft) they flee the state in an all female band disguised as women and headed for Florida , but further complications set in. There appears a gorgeous singer , Sugar Kane (Marilyn Monroe) , who is object of pursuit by the musicians (Jack Lemmon , Tony Curtis) who cannot reveal their identity because are dressed as women in order to getaway from killer gangsters’ retaliation .

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Rightly enjoyable and fun-filled , milestone comedy which neatly combines humor , mirth , entertaining situations and amusement . This noisy comedy is intelligently and pleasingly written to gives us lots of fun , laughters and smiles . Mordantly funny , though by time of premiere was rated as bad taste and some discomfort ; however , is todays considered a real classic movie . Billy Wilder kept the studio Paramount happy , the picture consistently made money and was hit at box office . Flawless comedy with a trio of sensational protagonists , including an unforgettable Marilyn who parades sexily at her best and more relaxed and enticing than ever . The hit of the show is undoubtedly for the fetching Marilyn Monroe who gives one of the best screen acting and sings marvelous songs as ¨Running wild¨, ¨I’m through with love¨ and the immortal ¨I wanna be loved you¨.

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Magnificent performances from Jack Lemmon as angst-ridden musician dressed in drag and sensational Tony Curtis as a philander young , playing his Gary Gray Grant impression . Furthermore , a splendid secondary cast , a variety of notorious actors who make sympathetic interpretations such as Pat O’Brien , George Raft , Mike Mazurski , Nehemia Persoff and , of course, smitten Joe E Brown , including his now-classic closing line .

The motion picture was very well directed by Billy Wilder who includes several punchlines . Billy was one of the best directors of history . In 1939 started the partnership with Charles Bracket on such movies as ¨Ninotchka¨ , ¨Ball of fire¨ , making their film debut as such with ¨Major and the minor¨ . ¨Sunset Boulevard¨ was their last picture together before they split up . Later on , Billy collaborated with another excellent screenwriter IAL Diamond . Both of them won an Academy Award for ¨Stalag 17¨ dealing with a POW camp starred by William Holden . After that , they wrote/produced/directed such classics as ¨Ace in the hole¨ , the touching romantic comedy ¨Sabrina¨ , the Hickcoktian courtroom puzzle game ¨Witness for the prosecution¨ and two movies with the great star Marilyn Monroe , the warmth ¨Seven year itch¨ and this ¨Some like hot¨.

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All of them include screenplays that sizzle with wit . But their biggest success and highpoint resulted to be the sour and fun ¨¨The apartment¨. Subsequently in the 60s and 70s , the duo fell headlong into the pit , they realized nice though unsuccessful movies as ¨Buddy buddy¨ ,¨Fedora¨ , ¨Front page¨ and ¨Secret life of Sherlock Holmes¨, though the agreeable ¨Avanti¨ slowed the decline . The team had almost disappeared beneath a wave of bad reviews and failures . ¨Some like hot¨ rating : Above average , essential and indispensable watching ; extremely funny and riveting film and completely entertaining . It justly deserves its place among the best comedy ever made . One of the very funniest films of all time and to see and see again . It’s the kind of movie where you know what’s coming but , because the treatment , enjoy it all the same .

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One Big Wink!

9/10
Author: Holdjerhorses from United States
21 November 2005
*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Yep — the poster, with Marilyn winking over the shoulders of Lemmon and Curtis, says it all.

Sometimes, the whole is LESS than the sum of its parts. For there may be no more delightful PARTS in the history of film, than these scenes. Yet the whole, curiously, doesn’t quite add up.

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Probably because the entire premise — two male jazz musicians passing as women to escape the Mafia — devolves into the notorious final, utterly improbable, line: “Nobody’s perfect!” But by then any pretext at reality has been dropped. We are immersed in some Neverland of movie-making which, really, has never been attempted before or since.

Namely, a thoroughly ridiculous vanity film for the director, writers, cinematographer and actors that remains utterly delightful nearly half a century later — and always will.

About halfway through, audiences realize they’re not watching anything resembling real life. Instead, they’re watching some of the best talents in the business having fun! And fun it is! The script is tight as a drum: the direction is flawless (particularly in light of the on-set problems with Miss Monroe): the cinematography is luscious (never has Monroe been lit and photographed so successfully; not even in “The Prince and the Showgirl.”).

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Yet what we’re given is scene after scene with two masterful actors — Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis — masquerading as women. And Marilyn Monroe — masterful in her narrow range — also masquerading as a woman.

Let’s face it: without her voluptuous body (and Orry-Kelly’s jaw-dropping costumes), Miss Monroe would have been NOTHING had she been Kate Moss. Or any other actor. Imagine ANYBODY else “breathing” those lines and slinking around in those gowns and getting by with it.

You can’t.

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Every scene “works.” Lemmon and Curtis are priceless — particularly Curtis — in female drag. Not for one second do they condescend to “playing” women. Sure, the plot demands it. But there’s not a moment where they’re “putting down” the “weaker” sex. That would have been an easy “comedic” choice back in the day. That nobody chose it says a lot about the talents and sensibilities at work here.

Only Joe E. Brown could have been cast as Osgood, perhaps. So obliviously innocent is he that he makes his love for “Daphne” work without a hint of homosexual subtext.

It may be a small miracle, in fact, that a film of this era, dealing with two men in drag, and an older wealthy man in love with one of them, has absolutely NO hint of homosexuality, much less anti-gay sentiment. The film is, truly, beloved in homosexual circles for precisely that reason.

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But forget all that. “Some Like It Hot” becomes a tour-de-force for everybody involved: a film about the joys of acting and pretending, rather than a film to be believed or taken seriously — since it’s so preposterous.

One finally yields to the audacious conceit that Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon are “believed” as “Josephine” and “Daphne” and simply lets the deliciousness of their playing wash over audiences.

The tidal wave that is Marilyn Monroe (though nearly impossible to work with, by this point: her lines being pasted inside bureau drawers and anywhere else on the set that couldn’t be seen, because she couldn’t recall even the simplest of them), is perhaps the ultimate in feminine pulchritude on screen. (Monroe was reportedly pregnant during filming, though she miscarried.) Forget that she’s written (and plays) a woman as dumb as a post. She looks like nothing anybody ever saw before or since.

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So “Some Like It Hot” works, scene by scene. Yet, curiously, if fails in the end because it’s so patently phony.

No matter the era, when a man proposes to another man (thinking he’s a woman), and that fiancée pulls off his wig and confesses, “I’m a man,” the last line is NEVER, “Well, nobody’s perfect.” No matter how funny. No matter ANYTHING. By then we’re in Neverland and all that’s left is to relish the performers relishing performing.

That, we do.

Billy Wilder strikes gold!

Author: bondboy422 from United Kingdom
17 November 2007
*** This review may contain spoilers ***

“Some Like It Hot” has to be one of the cleverest comedies.Billy Wilder’s comic ideas were always a cut above. Two musicians, Joe and Jerry by chance go to pick up a car which just happens to be the garage where the St Valentine’s Day massacre is taking place.How do you make a comedy on that idea? Talk about broad and brave.Tony Curtis as Joe and Jack Lemmon as Jerry are likable and brash.

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When they become women to escape the gangsters they become sensitive, vulnerable and extremely funny. They join an all girl swing band to get out of Chicago and travel by train down to Florida.Marylyn Monroe appears as Sugar Kane and the film becomes even more special.Not only is she sweet,vulnerable,sexy and funny — she is the core to what makes the film great.There is no one to touch her.Talk about rehearsed spontaneity!They always talk about how she kept everyone waiting and how unreliable she was — Well you can see from every frame in this film that Billy Wilder could not in any way have been easy to work for– He expected perfection– the comedy in this film is so precise bordering on genius.Joe E Brown is hysterically funny as Osgood — and Jack Lemmon has a brilliantly funny transformation from harassed male in drag to goldigging future fiancé of Osgood after there passion filled tango.Tony Curtis has a difficult job as Joe , it is a generously straight performance.I especially liked his suppressed fierce reaction as he clambers out of the bath when riled by Jerry.This film is “perfect”

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Maybe not the greatest ever but still quite good

7/10
Author: hall895 from New Jersey
13 November 2007

Some Like It Hot is often hailed as the greatest comedy film of all time. That’s probably a stretch. It may not be the greatest ever but it’s still very good and thoroughly enjoyable. Driven by the outstanding performances of three top-notch stars in Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis and the one and only Marilyn Monroe, Some Like It Hot will make you smile, make you laugh and maybe even make you cry but only because you’re laughing so hard at times. If you go in expecting the greatest movie ever, you may end up being a touch disappointed. If you go in with more reasonable expectations you can’t help but enjoy this delightful screwball comedy.

The setup of this film’s plot almost guarantees comic gold and sure enough it pays off. Curtis and Lemmon play Joe and Jerry, two musicians in Prohibition-era Chicago who witness a mob hit and have to get the heck out of town before they end up dead. They end up donning dresses, posing as women and joining an all-girl orchestra headed for Florida. Reborn, so to speak, as Josephine and Daphne the pair plan to ditch the band and resume their normal, non-dress wearing, lives as soon as they hit Florida. But on their new orchestra’s train ride to the Sunshine State there is a complication.

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That complication comes in the shape (and oh what a shape!) of singer/ukulele player Sugar Kane Kowalczyk, played by the incomparable Monroe. Needless to say our two men find themselves very much attracted to the bubbly, beautiful Sugar. Of course the fact that they are “women” very much complicates things. Hilarity ensues.

Once the orchestra hits Florida this film really takes off. Joe, or Josephine if you prefer, decides he and Jerry/Daphne should stick around for a while. Taking a break from being disguised as a woman, and now posing as a Shell Oil millionaire, Joe tries to woo Sugar. Meanwhile an actual millionaire falls for “Daphne” which obviously causes all kinds of complications for Jerry. Much of what ensues is simply priceless. There are a few jokes and gags which fall flat but there is so much here that works you forgive the film for the moments which don’t quite measure up. And given the rather juvenile nature of so many modern comedies the more subtle nature of the comedy here is a blessed relief. This movie presents a truly ridiculous situation but it’s never over the top.

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Director Billy Wilder found just the right tone to make the film work and the truly remarkable cast brings the story to life. There are some terrific supporting performances but it is the big three of Monroe, Curtis and Lemmon who really make this film work. What can you say about Marilyn Monroe that hasn’t already been said? She simply owns the screen. Watch her perform the song “I Wanna Be Loved by You” and I dare you not to fall in love. If this film has a straight man, Curtis is it. He’s suave, reserved, and altogether perfect no matter which disguise he happens to be in at any given moment. But in this film it may be Lemmon who shines most of all. He pours his heart and soul into being “Daphne” and it is an absolute treat to watch. Curtis and Monroe are both terrific and certainly have their share of moments and witty one-liners but the best moments and best lines seem to be reserved for Lemmon. It’s obvious Lemmon had a lot of fun making this film. You’ll have a lot of fun watching it. So what if it’s not the “best comedy ever”? It’s a wonderfully written, brilliantly performed, incredibly enjoyable film. That’s more than enough to make it well worth your while.

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The Shaggy Dog (1959 )

Directed by Charles Barton
Cinematography Edward Colman

Wilbur “Wilby” Daniels is a boy who is misunderstood by his father, Wilson. Wilson thinks Wilby is crazy half the time because of his elder son’s often dangerous inventions. As a retired mailman who often ran afoul of canines, he is allergic to dogs, and he simply cannot understand why his younger son, Montgomery “Moochie” would want a dog.

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Wilby and his rival Buzz Miller go with a French girl named Francesca Andrassé to the local museum. Wilby gets separated from the other two, who leave without him. Wilby encounters former acquaintance Professor Plumcutt (whose newspaper Wilby used to deliver), who tells him all about mystical ancient beliefs, including the legend of the Borgia family, who used shape-shifting as a weapon against their enemies.

On the way out, Wilby collides with a table that holds a display case of jewelry. He accidentally ends up with one of the rings in the cuff of his pants. It is the cursed Borgia ring, and no sooner does he read the inscription on it (“In canis corpore transmuto,” which, unknown to Wilby, means, “Into a dog’s body I change”) than he transforms into Chiffon, Francesca’s shaggy “Bratislavian sheepdog”.

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Confused, Wilby as a dog goes to Professor Plumcutt, who says he has invoked the Borgia curse upon himself, which can only be broken through a heroic act of selflessness. After getting chased out of his own house by his enraged father (who fails to recognize him as a dog), Wilby has a series of misadventures while switching back and forth between human form and dog form. Only Moochie and Professor Plumcutt know his true identity, as Wilby has spoken to them both in dog form. While at a local dance in his human form, he accidentally transforms himself into a dog.

The next day, Wilby, as a dog, and Moochie are talking when Francesca’s butler Stefano comes out and drags Wilby into the house. Stefano and Francesca’s adoptive father, Dr. Valasky, are discussing plans to steal a government secret, and Wilby, as a dog, overhears. Unfortunately for him, he transforms into human Wilby right in front of the spies and has been discovered, but not before he hears Dr. Valasky expressing his wish to get rid of his own daughter.

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The spies angrily capture Wilby and force Francesca to leave with them, leaving the human Wilby bound and gagged in the closet at once. Fortunately, Moochie sneaks into the house just after Dr. Valasky, Stefano and Francesca leave, and discovers Wilby, who is transformed into a dog, still bound and gagged in the closet. Wilby reveals the secret to his dumbfounded father, who goes to the authorities, until Wilson suddenly finds himself accused of being either crazy or a spy himself.

When Buzz appears at the Valasky residence to take Francesca on a date, Wilby, still in his dog form, steals Buzz’s hot rod automobile. Buzz reports this to Officers Hansen and Kelly, who are in disbelief until they see the shaggy dog driving Buzz’s hot rod. Wilson and Moochie follow Buzz and the police, who end up chasing everyone.

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The spies attempt to leave aboard a boat, but the police call in the harbor patrol to apprehend Dr. Valasky and stop his boat. Wilby, in his dog form, swims up and wrestles with the men, as Francesca gets knocked out of the boat. He then saves her life and drags her ashore, which finally breaks the curse. When Francesca regains her consciousness, Buzz tries to take credit for saving her. This angers Wilby, who is still a dog, so much that he attacks Buzz. Seconds later, Buzz is surprised to find himself wrestling with the real human Wilby, and the real Chiffon reappears. Since he is soaking wet, Francesca concludes that he has really saved her from the ocean and she hugs and praises Chiffon.

Now that Wilson and Chiffon are declared heroes, Francesca is able to leave for Paris without her evil adoptive father and former butler, both of whom have been arrested for illegal espionage; and she gives Chiffon to the Daniels family for them to keep as her way of thanking them.

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Since Wilson has gotten such commendation for foiling a spy ring because of “his love of dogs”, he has a change of heart over his allergy to dogs, a promise to change his ways, and a sense of humor (while he also realizes that his dog-hating attitude isn’t really good anymore), so he allows Moochie to care for Chiffon as he wanted a dog all along. Wilby and Buzz decide to forget their rivalry over Francesca and resume their friendship instead.

Production notes

In the late 1950s, the idea of an adult human turning into a beast was nothing new, but the idea of a teenager doing just that in a movie was considered avant-garde and even shocking in 1957 when AIP released their horror film, I Was a Teenage Werewolf, one of the studio’s biggest hits.The Shaggy Dog betrays its successful forebear with Fred MacMurray’s classic bit of dialogue: “That’s ridiculous — my son is not a werewolf! He’s nothing more than just a big, baggy, stupid-looking shaggy dog!”

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The movie was originally intended as the pilot for a never-made TV series and advertised as “the funniest shaggy dog story ever told,” although it is not in fact a story of that genre. The director was Charles Barton, who also directed Spin and Marty for The Mickey Mouse Club. Veteran screenwriter Lillie Hayward also worked on the Spin and Marty serials, which featured several of the same young actors as The Shaggy Dog. Disney producer Bill Walsh mused that “The Shaggy Dog” was the direct inspiration for the TV show My Three Sons, Walsh said “Same kids, same dog and Fred MacMurray!”

Veteran Disney voice actor Paul Frees had a rare on-screen appearance in the film – for which he received no on-screen credit – as Dr. J.W. Galvin, a psychiatrist who examines Wilby’s father (MacMurray), Wilson Daniels. Frees also did his usual voice acting by also playing the part of the narrator who informs the audience that Wilson Daniels is a “man noted for the fact that he is allergic to dogs.”

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Tommy Kirk Going To The Dogs

8/10
Author: bkoganbing from Buffalo, New York
20 April 2007

There seems to be some confusion about exactly what place in film history The Shaggy Dog has. First and foremost it is not Walt Disney’s first live action film, but it is the first live action big screen comedy that he did. It is also the first film that Disney did with Fred MacMurray starring.

For MacMurray this was a big film. His career was in the doldrums at that point and this film brought him to his final phase of his career as the star of family oriented comedies. He got a television series, My Three Sons, after this and that together with the Disney films kept him steadily working for the next fifteen years.

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Though MacMurray is the star along with Jean Hagen as his wife, the film’s title role is played in part by Tommy Kirk. Kirk is a young teenager with a lot of angst and an abiding interest in the space program. So much so he constructs his own rocket in his basement and it has an unscheduled launch to open the film. A generation later, this bit was copied in Family Matters by Steve Urkel.

Anyway he’s got a healthy set of hormones as well and a rivalry with the smooth talking Tim Considine down the street. Both are hot to trot for Annette Funicello, but when Roberta Shore shows up with father Alexander Scourby, both go after her as well.

Roberta’s the only weakness in the film. For someone who is foreign, she has one cheesy accent and at times just drops it altogether. She’s also got a large shaggy dog named Chiffon.

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Anyway while at a museum young Mr. Kirk gets a hold of an enchanted ring and repeats a spell that causes him to enter the body of the neighbor’s shaggy dog. And he discovers that in fact Scourby and his confederates are spies.

What follows after as Kirk periodically changes from talking dog to teenager is still pretty hilarious. Fred MacMurray gets a lot of laughs as the man who gets the credit for exposing the spy ring which son Kirk can’t really claim.

James Westerfield, one delightful character actor in everything he does, makes the first of three appearances as Officer Hanson, the much put upon patrol cop in this, The Absent Minded Professor and Son of Flubber. Best moment in the film is when Kirk as The Shaggy Dog steals Westerfield’s police vehicle in pursuit of the villains.

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I’m still amazed at how well the ancient special effects still work in this film. Disney took some meticulous care in doing the scenes with the dog. You really do think The Shaggy Dog is driving those vehicles and not some guy dressed in a dog costume. Good thing it was a large Shaggy Dog though, a Chihuahua would not have worked as well.

Still working well today.

A bit more context

5/10
Author: mt9045 from United States
8 March 2006

Up to the point of this movie, the Disney Studio had had plenty of experience in live-action film production, but it was chiefly in the UK, where they used the considerable debt-credit that England had run up during the war years to produce things as Treasue Island and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

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Their initial foray into U.S. live-action production was Davy Crockett on Disneyland, the Mickey Mouse Club’s TV serials, and then Zorro, followed by several mini-series on Walt Disney Presents (Texas John Slaughter, Elfego Baca, Swamp Fox). The Shaggy Dog was initially planned as a TV series to follow Zorro as something independent from the weekly Disney hour. You can see vestiges of TV production in almost every aspect of this film, from the post-production foley work on entire scenes to the subdued performance of Kirk (largely reprising his Joe Hardy role from the Hardy Boys serials) and MacMurray’s scenery chewing. Not that either of these things were unusual in family movies of the time, but we tend to be more forgiving of them on old TV. (The book the concept originated in was written by Felix Salten, who created Bambi and Perri, a couple of Disney animal characters who did pretty well for themselves.)

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The Shaggy Dog was one of the first movies I saw as a child and I’ve always held a great affection for it, even while recognizing all of its flaws. The concept here is what I liked, and I believe, had the same cast (remember, this is the year before Fred MacMurray and Tim Considine were cast in My Three Sons) starred in a TV series based on the concept, we’d now be looking back fondly on another TV classic of the golden years rather than a rather middling Disney comedy. I still feel that it might work better as a Disney Channel series than a movie starring Tim Allen; part of the reason I liked the original is because the star was a kid only a couple of years older than me. What I don’t need in a new Shaggy Dog film is even PG humor, and without it these days, there isn’t much of a market for it in theaters (or even as a series on any of the major networks). It’s a kids’ super-hero concept that requires a kids’ venue, and, sadly, that isn’t the big screen. Perhaps, however, if the film does well, someone in the studio will realize that it would work better on a weekly basis…about fifty years late.

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Weird and Funny “Shaggy Dog” Story Of Teen Age Lycanthropy

9/10
Author: johnstonjames from United States
9 October 2012
*** This review may contain spoilers ***

this is a hoot for anyone who understands the term ” a shaggy dog story” or anyone who knows folklore. first off the term “shaggy dog”, means a ridiculous or exaggerated story so even the title is imaginative and clever. anyone who has delved into folklore knows all about stories of lycanthropy or the legend of the Borgia family. all of this mixed into the whole fifties “i was a teen age…” formula. the film is good laughs and not a bad excursion into contemporary folklore.

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i’ve always felt that Disney comedies like this are often underrated for their cleverness. i guess because so much of the comedy is played for dumb laughs it’s hard to take it all seriously, which you’re not supposed to really, because it’s Disney you’re supposed to enjoy and have fun.

this is a great comedy, semi-horror, teen flick that actually holds up well to sophisticated screw ball comedies. a genuine argument can be made for this film that it is one of cinema’s better comedies. certainly with all of it’s gimmicks and effects, it’s very cinematic.

one major note here for viewers. this film was originally filmed in glorious B&W and is most effective when viewed in B&W. avoid the horrible colorized, tinted versions which disarm the effectiveness of it’s nostalgia and photography.

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Back to the Future (1985)

Directed by Robert Zemeckis
Cinematography Dean Cundey

Back to the Future is a 1985 American science fiction adventure comedy film  directed by Robert Zemeckis and written by Zemeckis and Bob Gale. It stars Michael J. Fox as teenager Marty McFly, who is sent back in time to 1955, where he meets his future parents in high school and accidentally becomes his mother’s romantic interest. Christopher Lloyd portrays the eccentric scientist Dr. Emmett “Doc” Brown, Marty’s friend who helps him repair the damage to history by advising Marty how to cause his parents to fall in love. Marty and Doc must also find a way to return Marty to 1985.

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Zemeckis and Gale wrote the script after Gale mused upon whether he would have befriended his father if they had attended school together. Various film studios rejected the script until the financial success of Zemeckis’ Romancing the Stone. Zemeckis approached Steven Spielberg, who agreed to produce the project at Amblin Entertainment, with Universal Pictures as distributor. The first choice for the role of Marty McFly was Michael J. Fox. However, he was busy filming his television series Family Ties and the show’s producers would not allow him to star in the film. Consequently, Eric Stoltz was cast in the role. During filming, Stoltz and the filmmakers decided that the role was miscast, and Fox was again approached for the part. Now with more flexibility in his schedule and the blessing of his show’s producers, Fox managed to work out a timetable in which he could give enough time and commitment to both.

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Teenager Marty McFly is an aspiring musician dating girlfriend Jennifer Parker in Hill Valley, California. His father George is bullied by his supervisor, Biff Tannen, while his mother Lorraine is an overweight, depressed alcoholic. While dissatisfied with Marty’s relationship with Jennifer, Lorraine recalls how she met George when her father hit him with a car.

On October 26, 1985, Marty meets his scientist friend, Dr. Emmett Brown, at a shopping mall parking lot. Doc unveils a time machine built from a modified DeLorean and powered by plutonium stolen from Libyan terrorists. Doc demonstrates the navigation system with the example date of November 5, 1955: the day he conceived the machine. A moment later, the Libyans arrive and kill him. Marty escapes in the DeLorean, but inadvertently activates the time machine, and arrives in 1955 without the required plutonium needed to return.

There, Marty encounters the teenage George, who is bullied by classmate Biff. After Marty saves George from an oncoming car and is knocked unconscious, he awakens to find himself tended by an infatuated Lorraine. Marty leaves and tracks down Doc’s younger self to help him return to 1985.

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With no plutonium, Doc explains that the only power source capable of generating the necessary 1.21 gigawatts of electricity to power the time machine is a bolt of lightning. Marty shows Doc a flyer from the future that recounts a lightning strike at the town’s courthouse the coming Saturday night. Doc instructs Marty to not leave his house or interact with anyone, as he could inadvertently change the course of history and alter the future; because of this, Doc refuses to heed warnings from Marty about his death in 1985. Marty realizes that he has prevented his parents from meeting and Doc warns Marty that he will be erased from existence if he does not find a way to introduce George to Lorraine. Doc formulates a plan to harness the power of the lightning while Marty sets about introducing his parents, but he antagonizes Biff and his gang in the process.

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When Lorraine asks Marty to the upcoming school dance, Marty plans to have George “rescue” Lorraine from Marty’s inappropriate advances. The plan goes awry when a drunken Biff attempts to force himself on Lorraine. George arrives to rescue her from Marty, but finds Biff instead. George knocks out Biff and Lorraine follows George to the dance floor, where they kiss and fall in love while Marty plays music with the band. Satisfied that he has secured his future existence, Marty leaves to meet Doc.

As the storm arrives, Marty returns to the clock tower and the lightning strikes on cue, sending Marty back to October 1985. He finds that Doc is not dead, as he had listened to Marty’s warnings and worn a bullet-proof vest. Doc takes Marty home, then departs to 2015.

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Marty awakens the next morning to find his family changed: George is a self-confident, successful author, Lorraine is physically fit and happy, his brother David is a successful businessman, his sister Linda works in a boutique and has many “boyfriends” and Biff is now an obsequious auto valet. As Marty reunites with Jennifer, the DeLorean appears with Doc, dressed in a futuristic outfit, insisting they accompany him to 2015 to fix a problem with their future children. The trio get inside the DeLorean and disappear into the future.

Writer and producer Bob Gale conceived the idea after he visited his parents in St. Louis, Missouri after the release of Used Cars. Searching their basement, Gale found his father’s high school yearbook and discovered he was president of his graduating class. Gale thought about the president of his own graduating class, who was someone he had nothing to do with. 

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Gale wondered whether he would have been friends with his father if they went to high school together. When he returned to California, he told Robert Zemeckis his new concept.  Zemeckis subsequently thought of a mother claiming she never kissed a boy at school when, in fact, she was highly promiscuous.  The two took the project to Columbia Pictures, and made a development deal for a script in September 1980.

Zemeckis and Gale said that they had set the story in 1955 because a 17-year-old traveling to meet his parents at the same age arithmetically required the script to travel to that decade. The era also marked the rise of teenagers as an important cultural element, the birth of rock n’ roll, and suburb expansion, which would flavor the story.  In an early script, the time machine was designed as a refrigerator, and its user needed to use the power of an atomic explosion at the Nevada Test Site to return home. Zemeckis was “concerned that kids would accidentally lock themselves in refrigerators”, and found that it would be more convenient if the time machine were mobile.

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The DeLorean DMC-12 was chosen because its design made the gag about the family of farmers mistaking it for a flying saucer believable. Zemeckis and Gale found it difficult to create a believable friendship between Marty and Brown before they created the giant guitar amplifier, and only resolved his Oedipal relationship with his mother when they wrote the line “It’s like I’m kissing my brother.” Biff Tannen was named after studio executive Ned Tanen, who behaved aggressively toward Zemeckis and Gale during a script meeting for I Wanna Hold Your Hand.

The first draft of Back to the Future was finished in February 1981 and presented to Columbia, who put the film in turnaround. “They thought it was a really nice, cute, warm film, but not sexual enough,” Gale said. “They suggested that we take it to Disney, but we decided to see if any other of the major studios wanted a piece of us.” Every major film studio rejected the script for the next four years, while Back to the Future went through two more drafts. During the early 1980s, popular teen comedies (such as Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Porky’s) were risqué and adult-aimed, so the script was commonly rejected for being too light.Gale and Zemeckis finally decided to pitch Back to the Future to Disney. “They told us that a mother falling in love with her son was not appropriate for a family film under the Disney banner,” Gale said.

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The two were tempted to ally themselves with Steven Spielberg, who produced Used Cars and I Wanna Hold Your Hand, which were both box office bombs. Zemeckis and Gale initially had shown the screenplay to Spielberg, who had “loved” it.[Spielberg, however, was absent from the project during development because Zemeckis felt if he produced another flop under him, he would never be able to make another film. Gale said “we were afraid that we would get the reputation that we were two guys who could only get a job because we were pals with Steven Spielberg.” Zemeckis chose to direct Romancing the Stone instead, which was a box office success. Now a high-profile director, Zemeckis reapproached Spielberg with the concept. Agreeing to produce Back to the Future, Spielberg set the project up at his production company, Amblin Entertainment, with Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall joining Spielberg as executive producers on the film.

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The script remained under Columbia’s shelf until legal issues forced them to withdraw. The studio was set to begin shooting a comedic send-up of Double Indemnity entitled Big Trouble. Columbia’s legal department determined that the film’s plot was too similar to Double Indemnity and they needed the permission of Universal Pictures, owners of the earlier film, if the film was ever to begin shooting. With Big Trouble already set to go, desperate Columbia executives phoned Universal’s Frank Price to get the necessary paperwork. Price was a former Columbia executive who had been quite fond of the script for Back to the Future during his tenure there. As a result, Universal agreed to trade the Double Indemnity license in exchange for the rights to Back to the Future. Thus, the film finally had a home at Universal.

Executive Sidney Sheinberg made some suggestions to the script, changing Marty’s mother’s name from Meg to Lorraine (the name of his wife, actress Lorraine Gary), to change Brown’s name from Professor Brown to Doc Brown and replace his pet chimpanzee with a dog. Sheinberg also wanted the title changed to Spaceman from Pluto, convinced no successful film ever had “future” in the title.

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He suggested Marty introduce himself as “Darth Vader from the planet Pluto” while dressed as an alien forcing his dad to ask out his mom (rather than “the planet Vulcan“), and that the farmer’s son’s comic book be titled Spaceman from Pluto rather than Space Zombies from Pluto. Appalled by the new title that Sheinberg wanted to impose, Zemeckis asked Spielberg for help. Spielberg subsequently dictated a memo back to Sheinberg, wherein Spielberg convinced him they thought his title was just a joke, thus embarrassing him into dropping the idea. In addition, the original climax was deemed too expensive by Universal executives and was simplified by keeping the plot within Hill Valley and incorporating the clocktower sequence. Spielberg later used the omitted refrigerator and Nevada nuclear site elements in his film, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

On review aggregator Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100, the film received an average score of 86/100, which indicates “universal acclaim”, based on 12 reviews. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported that 96% of critics gave the film a positive review, based on 77 reviews, certifying it “Fresh”, with an average rating of 8.7 out of 10 and the consensus: “Inventive, funny, and breathlessly constructed, Back to the Future is a rousing time-travel adventure with an unforgettable spirit.”

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Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times felt Back to the Future had similar themes to the films of Frank Capra, especially It’s a Wonderful Life. Ebert commented “[Producer] Steven Spielberg is emulating the great authentic past of Classical Hollywood cinema, who specialized in matching the right director (Robert Zemeckis) with the right project.” He gave the film 3 1/2 out of 4 stars. Janet Maslin of The New York Times believed the film had a balanced storyline: “It’s a cinematic inventing of humor and whimsical tall tales for a long time to come.” Christopher Null, who first saw the film as a teenager, called it “a quintessential 1980s flick that combines science fiction, action, comedy, and romance all into a perfect little package that kids and adults will both devour.” Dave Kehr of Chicago Reader felt Gale and Zemeckis wrote a script that perfectly balanced science fiction, seriousness and humor. Variety praised the performances, arguing Fox and Lloyd imbued Marty and Doc Brown’s friendship with a quality reminiscent of King Arthur and Merlin. BBC News lauded the intricacies of the “outstandingly executed” script, remarking that “nobody says anything that doesn’t become important to the plot later.” Back to the Future appeared on Gene Siskel‘s top ten film list of 1985.

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Time Travel Movies Are Always Brilliant

Author: Big Movie Fan from England
4 June 2002

Time travel movies never disappoint-that is because the concept of time travel is a very interesting one which most people must have thought about at one time or another. What would happen if you went back in time and an innocuous act changed the course of history for better or worse? It’s something to think about.

I won’t reveal any plot details for this movie because it will spoil it for those who haven’t seen it. Let’s just say that Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly ends up back in 1955 where a sequence of events inadvertently orchestrated by Marty threaten his very existence. He is aided by Doc Brown played brilliantly by Christopher Lloyd who tries to get him back to 1985 without causing any damage to the fabric of time.

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The movie is great-and I feel it can be enjoyed by anyone regardless of their individual tastes in film genres. In fact, I find it hard to believe anyone could dislike a film like this. It has action, adventure, plenty of humour and some cool moments. All the actors involved in the movie play their parts great.

Anyone who watches this movie will love it.

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8/10
Author: TheNorthernMonkee from Manchester
17 October 2005
*** This review may contain spoilers ***

SPOILERS When you build a time machine, it just has to be a Deloren really. The corrupt car manufacturer’s ultimate advert for his death trap vehicle, “Back to the Future” was your regular 1980s classic. Well written, entertaining to watch and with a killer soundtrack, it’s a film which has managed to survive the test of time. Released midway through one of the most irrelevant decades in history, this Michael J Fox driven piece is great.

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When Dr Emmett Brown (Christopher Lloyd) creates a time machine, he’s made his greatest, and most risky invention. Shot for stealing the plutonium power source, Brown’s invention undertakes it’s first major expedition with young Marty McFly (Fox) behind the wheel. Travelling back thirty years to the 1950s, Marty finds himself in his home town of Hill Valley and in the company of his lovestruck mother (Lea Thompson) and useless father (Crispin Glover). Destroying their entire relationship, Marty manages to completely screw up his entire future. Still, with no way to get home, and a school bully on the prowl, he’s got all the time in the world to fix it.

Perhaps the one set of films that Robert Zemeckis will ever be remembered for, “Back to the Future” and it’s two sequels will forever be remembered as an entertaining piece of cinema. From the opening of the film where Fox glides around the fictional town of Hill Valley to the sound of Huey Lewis’ “Power of Love”, you can tell what decade it is, and yet you continue to watch.

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It might be harsh to really slate the 1980s as much as we do, after all, we did get entertaining films like “Ghostbusters”, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Out” and “The Breakfast Club”, but for every one good film, there were so many dire productions. A bit like the current box office climate, you knew that the majority were a disappointing mess, but there would always turn up one rare beauty. “Back to the Future” is one of those.

Led by some straight forward but solid performances, the film just has something about it. The witty notion of the hypocritical mother and her secret youth, that one magnificent scene where Michael J Fox performs “Johnny B Goode” at the school prom and Marvin Berry (Harry Waters Jnr) phones his cousin Chuck, all add together to leave you with a huge grin on your face. It’s an icon for an age, and for once it makes you grateful for the decade.

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Robert Zemeckis has never really found the highs of the “Back to the Future” trilogy (1994’s “Forrest Gump” is his only other major success) since the final part was released in 1990. Ultimately though, there are worse positions to be in. A rare joy in an otherwise dire decade, this film and the continuing parts, was an entertaining piece of cinema which left you happy and content. It’s perfect afternoon viewing, and the one surprise is that it isn’t shown more often.

One of the finest Sci-Fi movies ever

8/10
Author: Philip Van der Veken from Tessenderlo, Belgium
2 August 2005

Even though I’m still convinced that the eighties are one of the worst decades in recent history when it comes to movies and music and even though I never liked Sci-Fi movies, there is one big exception to that rule. In my opinion “Back to the Future” is not only one of the best movies in the genre, it’s also in my list of all time favorite movies.

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When I saw it for the first time, I remember to be blown away by it. But than again, I was only 10 years old, not exactly an age on which you’ve already seen many really good movies to which you can compare another one. But even now, 20 years after its first release and after I’ve seen hundreds of movies, I still like it a lot.

It’s 1985 and Marty McFly is a typical teenager who doesn’t like his parents and who has some problems at school. His best friend is Doc Brown, a weird inventor of all kinds of (useless) machines. But this time he has invented something that is much more interesting. He has created a plutonium-powered time machine based on a DeLorean. But when something goes wrong, Marty is accidentally sent back to 1955, the time in which his parents still were young. Not only has he got to adapt to this entirely new environment, he also has to make sure that nothing is changed, because that might have serious consequences for the future…

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I guess the best reason why this movie works so well and feels so timeless is because they don’t use the time machine to go forward. Instead of showing us the future, which wouldn’t look exactly like it is right now, they have chosen to go back 30 years, a time period which they new very well and could recreate perfectly. If they hadn’t done this, the movie would have felt dated one day and no-one would have liked it because it was far from possible. Another good thing about this movie is the acting. Take for instance Michael J. Fox. Not everything that he has done in his career was very successful, but in this movie he shines. I truly believe that this is one of his best performances ever. The same for Christopher Lloyd. Even though his Dr. Emmett Brown looks like if he could have come out of a cartoon, his acting gives the character something likable and makes you forget about that ‘problem’.

Overall I really liked this movie a lot. It’s one of the finest examples in Sci-Fi movies and I can keep watching it time after time. That’s why I believe that this movie doesn’t deserve a rating lower than 8/10.

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Best ever. Period.

10/10
Author: Mark Hines from USA
22 April 2015

What else needs to be said? Anyone that knows anything about filmmaking knows that this is the best film ever made. Try watching certain movies over and over and see how quickly you get sick of it. This movie is different. The depth and richness of storytelling, the characters, oh my, the characters. Doc Brown is easily one of the best and most memorable on screen characters in any film ever. Biff, Griff, Buford…best on screen bully ever! Compare this movie to other epic movies, such as Star Wars – while those types of movies are great in their own right, Back to the Future is different. There is a warmth and comfort to the way that Bob Gale and Bob Zemekis crafted this screenplay. It’s pure genius. And for all of you fans that always have to mention “plot holes” or “minor flaws” – please make sure you have seen every second of the 25th Anniversary set of the trilogy that has an entire bonus disc, as well as more bonus features and two different commentaries on the main discs.

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Bob Gale is aware of every little detail about his script and talks about it in the commentaries. My true love of this film came as a result of watching all the behind the scenes material – which if you haven’t seen, you must see it if you’re a fan of this movie. It will give you a whole new level of appreciation for this film. As someone that is into filmmaking and a total nerd about directing, cameras, technical details, I can’t get enough of watching and listening to these guys talk about how everything came together just right for this masterpiece to happen. I can’t say enough about this film, its actors and all the people involved in making it. Truly something not to be rivaled and we will probably never see anything close to it ever again.

One Of The Greatest Films Ever Made. An Excellent And Unforgettable Classic.

10/10
Author: jcbutthead86 from United States
23 November 2015

Back To The Future is one greatest films ever made,an excellent and unforgettable classic that combines terrific direction,a wonderful cast,an amazing score and soundtrack,a fantastic script and great special effects. All of those elements make Back To The Future one of the best films of the 1980s that is Popcorn entertainment at it’s best.

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Set in the fictional town of Hill Valley,California,Back To The Future tells the story of teenager Marty McFly(Michael J. Fox). who is asked by his friend eccentric scientist Dr. Emmett Brown(Christopher Lloyd)to help him on experiment a time machine made out of a Delorean car. After an unfortunate incident Marty gets into the time machine and is accidentally transported back to 1955 where he not only meets Dr. Brown but also meets his parents George(Crispin Glover)and Lorraine(Lea Thompson)as teenagers. With the help of Dr. Brown Marty must find a way to get back to the year 1985.

Released in 1985,Back To The Future is a brilliant and entertaining film that was without a doubt the biggest Box Office hit of 1985 grossing over 300 million dollars world wide and is just an instant classic from the moment you watch it and is one of those movies that is the definition of what a blockbuster should be and where everything from the direction,the cast and story work to absolute perfection with no false note or missing beat.

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I don’t think director Robert Zemeckis or the cast knew what they had was something that was special,magical and timeless and can be enjoyed by people of all ages and will continue to be enjoyed by past,present and future generations. The movie is also the first feature of one of the most beloved movie trilogies of all-time and while all three Back To The Future films are classics as a whole the first is still the best. What Back To The Future does so well is that it takes the time travel movie and gives it style and creativity mixing together different movie genres Comedy,SCI-FI,Action,Romance and thrills giving viewers everything but the kitchen sink but the movie never becomes uneven or confusing making Back To The Future one of the best genre mash-up movies I have ever seen. Although there are some serious moments Back To The Future is lighthearted with non-stop fun From beginning to end,Back To The Future has an energy and flow that just never stops and keeps you glued to the screen with relentless pace and excitement that makes the film re-watchable and iconic to this very day.

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The screenplay by Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale is incredible and quotable with tons memorable scenes and dialog that are funny done with perfection and fun as well with ingenious style and rapid fire delivery that is wonderful. The Comedy and laughs in BTTF are hilarious and fun with moments that are over the top and great thanks to the actions and reactions of Marty and Doc Brown and the main characters. The SCI-FI scenes in BTTF involving the Delorean are so dazzling and are done with imagination and beauty that will make your jaw drop and it doesn’t matter how many times you see BTTF you will be blown away by the Delorean sequences. There have been many classic movie duos throughout cinema and among the great duos are Marty and Doc. The scenes between Marty and Doc are truly funny with terrific back and forth banter and have some of the best scenes in the film that are unforgettable. While the two are different in personality and are separated by age the two have a friendship that feels genuine and real where you feel that Marty and Doc would have each other’s back at all costs.

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The friendship between Marty and Doc is further cemented in Part II and III where you feel they will be friends forever whether it’s in the future or in the present. Marty and Doc are two amazing and memorable characters that will never be forgotten. The ending of Back To The Future is terrific,thrilling and filled with surprises that will leave viewers laughing and smiling. A fantastic ending.

The cast is wonderful. Michael J. Fox is excellent and funny as Marty McFly,with Fox bringing laughs and charisma to the role. Christopher Lloyd is brilliant as Dr. Emmett Doc Brown,with Lloyd being delightfully over the top and having a fantastic chemistry with Fox. Lea Thompson and Crispin Glover are wonderful as Lorraine and George McFly,Marty’s parents. Thomas F. Wilson is terrific and fun as Biff,a neighborhood bully. James Toklin is great as Mr. Strickland,a hard nosed principal. Claudia Wells(Jennifer),Mark McClure(Dave McFly),Wendie Jo Sperber(Linda McFly),Jeffrey Jay Cohan(Skinhead),Casey Siemaszko(3-D),Billy Zane(Match),George DiCenzo(Sam Baines),Francis Lee McCain(Stella Baines),Harry Waters Jr.(Marvin Berry),Donald Fullilove(Goldie Wilson),Will Hare(Pa Peabody)and Norman Alden(Lou)give good performances as well.

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The direction by Robert Zemeckis is amazing,with Zemeckis always moving the camera while giving the film with great camera angles,pace and atmosphere.

The score by Alan Silvestri is outstanding and one of best scores in movie history,with Silvestri’s score being epic,suspenseful and uplifting. Incredible score,Silvestri. There is also a great soundtrack featuring songs by Huey Lewis And The News(The Power Of Love and Back In Time).

The Special Effects by Industrial,Light and Magic is dazzling and visual stunning and will blow your mind. Great effects,ILM.

In final word,if you love Comedies,SCI-FI,Robert Zemeckis or Films in general,I highly suggest you see Back To The Future,one of the greatest films ever made and an excellent,unforgettable classic that you will watch again and again. Highly Recommended. 10/10.

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Radio Days (1987)

Directed by Woody Allen
Cinematography Carlo Di Palma
A nostalgic look at radio’s golden age focusing on one ordinary family and the various performers in the medium.

Woody Allen’s own “Amarcord”

21 August 2006 | by Galina (Virginia, USA) – See all my reviews

Radio Days (1987)- written, directed, and narrated by Allen:

What a beautiful, kind, gentle, ironic, warm, sentimental (in a very good way and yes, I am talking about Woody Allen’s movie, that’s right) yet perfectly balanced delight. It is a series of sketches about young Joe (young Allen, of course, played by Seth Green – that was a surprise), an adolescent in Brooklyn, NY during 1930s-1940s who was passionately in love with radio which was a king.

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The film is a tribute to the magical radio days and the myths and legends about radio personalities, the memory of a grown man who never forgot where he came from, the love letter to his always fighting and arguing (“I mean, how many people argue over oceans?”) but loving relatives and a very funny comedy (the way only Allen’s comedy can be). It is the film where pretty like a doll and painfully naive Sally (Mia Farrow) asks who Pearl Harbor is? Where gorgeous Diane Keaton sings and Diane Wiest, his beloved Aunt Bea never gives up hope of one true love. He never told us if she found it…

“I never forgot that New Year’s Eve when Aunt Bea awakened me to watch 1944 come in. I’ve never forgotten any of those people or any of the voices we would hear on the radio. Though the truth is, with the passing of each New Year’s Eve, those voices do seem to grow dimmer and dimmer.”

The Radio days are gone but thanks to Allen, the voices of the times passed are still clear and sound and they always will be.

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A Masterpiece. Amazing.

10/10
Author: Kieran Kenney from California
16 June 2003

Radio Days has got to be one of my absolute favorite films of all time. To me, it’s a film that balances story, characters and atmosphere better than just about any other. It’s truly a great work of art, and a very, very underrated one. The best thing about it is how Allen’s love for his subject, the romantic nostalgia he feels, translates so eloquently to the screen. You’ve also got to hand it to the cast. Diane Weist, Julie Kavner, Mia Farrow, Josh Mostel, a briefly-glimpsed Jeff Daniels, and a young Seth Green all give great performances that are right out of the period, yet instantly recognizable. Allen had Santo Loquasto, his art director, do a bang-up job on creating the world of early-1940s Rockaway, New York, and Jeffrey Kurland’s costumes help immensely.

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Particularly note-worthy is Carlo Di Palma’s stunning cinematography. The colours, the smoky nightclubs and soundstages, the dimly-lit nighteries and the dazzling rooftop set come to life like few sets do in films. And then there’s the music. That dazzling array of classic music, from one of the best periods for it in American history. Allen’s decision to use only music from that time might sound cliche, but he’s definatly justified here. And there’s always the Radio Show Themes piece by Dick Hyman (I’m always by that name) that accompanies many of the scenes. That piece of music alone is worth seeing the film. As you can probably tell, I love this film simply for the fact that it’s such a charming, enchanting, beautiful film. It’s one I’d show my children, even the nude dancing scene, had I any children to show it to. Woody Allen’s turn in the films he’s made lately (as of 2003) are, to me, pretty depressing and perverse, with none of the charm, life and humor that works like Radio Days symbolize, Sweet and Lowdown notwithstanding. Hopefully, more films like this gem are on the horizon.

Recollecting Can Be Meaningful

10/10
Author: canadude
6 August 2004

I thought I was being original when I made the connection between Woody Allen’s “Radio Days” and Federico Fellini’s “Amarcord,” but I was being naive. The parallels are so transparent it is of no surprise that most of the IMDB reviewers (and I imagine those others as well) caught the similarity.

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And it’s a good similarity – “Radio Days” is as successful in transporting the viewer to a different place and time as “Amarcord” was. It also cements my conclusion that Woody Allen is the only director who “spoofs” great art films and artistic styles, confirmed by his tributes to Ingmar Bergman and German Expressionists.

All that aside, “Radio Days” is, second of all, a look at Allen’s childhood memories weaved together by radio. It’s the story of his family (his large and extended family and neighborhood personages), their likes, dislikes, relationships and favorite radio shows. They are inextricably connected as genetic members of a family, but also more intangibly linked by radio broadcasts, to which they listen to individually as well as collectively. They have favorite songs and shows – each favorite reflecting the personality of a given character. They also share great love for one another, though they quibble like all human beings do. In fact, that tender quibbling, love and loss and understanding is what makes Allen’s characters come to life so successfully – no wonder he speaks of them with warmth.

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What “Radio Days” is about first of all and foremost, is nostalgia. The film would only be a heartwarming family tale and nothing more if it were not “recollected” by Woody Allen, the narrator. His role in the film (in which he never physically appears) is that of a story-teller. He transports the audience to his memories consciously, mixing present reflections with the unadulterated spirit of his memories. And it is he, not the characters in the film as much, who experiences the nostalgia, the central theme of “Radio Days.”

In narrating his memories, Allen is able to distance himself from them temporally. He is telling a tale that borders on fantasy, such as that on whose form nostalgic memories take place. There is a bittersweet yearning for the past and a realization that memories must inevitably fade, change, yield to time’s destructiveness. Re-telling them not only reveals how one thinks life once was (usually painted over with warmth and pleasantness), but also oneself and the knowledge that these times are no longer physically accessible. How we recollect our past tells us of us as much as it does of the past. In “Radio Days” that past is warm and Allen’s yearning for that warmth and childish innocence is what pervades the film so well giving it its nostalgic quality.

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And nostalgia, the film seems to suggest, is a feeling worth experiencing. If one can glance back at his life and feel a longing towards the past, a warmth emanating from his memories, then he remembers life as having been kind to him. Even if the details flee from the mind (as they inevitably do) and only the feelings inspired by hazy memories remain. And that, if nothing else, is not only comforting, but also meaningful.

Everybody’s Family

10/10
Author: annmason1 from Bellingham, WA
11 August 2006

This is a wonderful wonderful movie that exemplifies the phrase, “misty watercolored memories.” It is a joy to watch and listen to. The era before and during WWII, however, was anything but wonderful. Radio Days presents a time when America was dealing with the Great Depression and its after effects and the horrible event that was World War II. Since the man narrating the memories was only a boy then, it is altogether fitting and proper that he see things as a child; for as he states in one scene, “our conversation turned from Nazis to more important things,like girls.” No movies, except this one, that I recall, are able to deal with this critical age in American history without conveying the tragic time that it was.

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I would like to think this family was really Woody Allen’s, but it is probably a work of fiction, like his other pieces. But how tremendous that he can create (or remember) these people. As I watched it, one thought that kept recurring was that these were not “beautiful” manufactured people like we see in the media today; they had big hips and were fat and poor and… and none of that mattered. They were real. They were believable. You can’t watch this movie without wondering what happened to them, did Aunt Bee find a husband? You cared about this family and personally, I wished they were mine.

The vignettes were sad and sweet. My favorite was poor departed Kirby Kyle; at least he had heart! And Leonard; and “donations for the promotion of a state in Palestine.” So many memories that make us a part of a family most people never had. The viewer belongs to this warm and loving group.

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Something has been lost with the concept of “nuclear family,” with the lonely big houses and empty hours and unshared hopes and sorrows. Radio Days reminds us that having someone to experience life with is a treasure and a blessing, despite whacks on the head, martians, and fish, “That man always brings home fish!”

And oh, the music!

This is Woody Allen’s masterpiece.

Well, waddaya know, Woody does have a heart after all . . .

Author: Paul Dana (crystalseachurch@juno.com) from San Francisco, CA, USA
19 April 2001

In preface, let me say that I was born at the tail-end of the “golden age of radio,” but just in time to experience a touch of its magic and the hold it had on households night after night in that pre-TV era. Add to that a favorite aunt who had worked in radio for years on the West Coast and who regaled her nephew with story upon story, which in turn led to the years I later spent in radio (luckily, prior to the “formula radio” days). It all adds up to my absolutely having to go see “Radio Days” when it first came out, despite the fact that I’d never been the world’s foremost Woody Allen fan. Too much of his work, for me, lacked that indefinable but oh so recognizable element of “heart.”

Well, I was wrong about Woody. This film shows it.

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Autobiographical — or perhaps semi-autobiographical — in nature, “Radio Days” evokes the time when people returned “to those thrilling days of yesteryear,” and for whom, quite probably, it was equally thrilling to contemplate the magic of a box in their living room that could cause them to “watch” the stories unfold in their minds. “Remotes,” or on-the-spot broadcasts transported them to the scene of unfolding tragedies or triumphs in a way that newspapers never could (and which TV, for all its advantages, rarely matches).

And yet the film, for all its authenticity in recreating studio practices (watch, for example, how the actors drop completed script pages onto the floorrather than turning them and risking a tell-tale rustle of paper), isn’t really so much about radio itself as it is about the people who listened, as personified by one raucous, cantankerous and loving Brooklyn family. Beautifully evoked, particularly by Julie Kavner (Mother), Michael Tucker (Father), and the incomparable Dianne Wiest (as the perenially lovelorn Aunt Bea), it is their reactions to what they hear on the radio — whether listening breathlessly to the war news (at a time when the end result was anything but certain) or Bea’s abandonment in the middle of nowhere by a panicked suitor as Orson Welles’ “War of the Worlds” broadcast takes hold — that bring to life the era and the power of that medium.

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Standouts? The whole cast is perfect, but for me, in addition to those previously mentioned, I have to cit Mia Farrow’s portrayal of the dim-bulbed Sally White, who transforms herself with the aid of speech lessons into a radio personality. (For that matter, catch Danny Aiello as a less-than-brilliant hitman, particularly his scenes with Dina DeAngeles as his mom.)

Criticisms? One: At the end of a poignant scene in which young Joe has finally discovered what his dad does for a living, Allen insists on falling into some standby “schtick” in his voiceover. (I guess he couldn’t resist; thankfully, it doesn’t ruin the moment.)

Ultimately, of course, it is the era itself that this film celebrates. Faithfully, and lovingly, it is recreated with a skill that points up its absurdities at the same time it makes one hopefully nostalgic. And, if you’re not very careful, you wind up falling hopelessly in love with this funny, obscure Brooklyn family.

And to the end of my days, I’ll always wonder whether poor Aunt Bea ever did find her “Mr. Right” . .

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